Stop Using Disposable K-Cups for Coffee

Andrea Lewis - Friday, June 16, 2023

K-Cup brewers with the prefilled brew cups are seductive: so many choices of brews, no fuss, and who doesn't like freshly brewed coffee? But once you realize the environmental impact of the plastic cups, they aren't so fun anymore.

Even John Sylvan, the inventor of K-Cups, later regretted his invention. He knew that the billions of cups that are sold each year just end up in landfills. He knew that the production of K-Cups requires significant amounts of energy and resources, from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacturing process to water usage and transportation.

Although some manufacturers have introduced compostable versions of K-Cups, a vast majority of them are still not easily recyclable in most municipal recycling systems and none can be composted by the consumer. There are fewer than 100 industrial composting facilities in the United States that can handle these types of coffee pods on a large scale. This limits the options for environmentally conscious consumers.

Good Alternatives

Fortunately, there are good, even economical alternatives which include using a refillable K-Cup in a Keurig brewer. You can also find other brands of single brewer units that use a refillable K-Cup or an alternative type of basket. Then there's the whole world of espresso brewers that use no disposable baskets. These other choices reduce plastic waste, reduce your exposure to plastic and allow you to use freshly ground coffee, including organic, which is important to many people, and for the environment. Quite a few of these brewers are much less expensive than a Keurig.

I looked online and found several brewers that are under $50. I even found a method that employs an extra fine tea strainer that costs only $7.99. We bought one of these, and what we like about this strainer is that it is made only of stainless steel, so you are not drinking coffee that has been exposed to hot plastic.

As I looked at alternatives, I saw how simple they are and how little room they take up on your counter if you choose the right one. I've listed a few below and there are many others to choose from. If you need a new single cup brewer, take a look at what's out there and find something that is not adding to the many billions of "convenient" K-Cups piling up and wasting energy and materials in manufacturing each year. Given the number of choices, this will be quite easy.

Single Cup Alternatives under $50

Hamilton Beach The Scoop, handles cups and mugs

Hamilton Beach The Scoop

Wirsh single serve coffee maker

Wirsh coffee maker

Chefman single serve coffee maker

Chefman coffee maker

Single cup strainer has no plastic touching the brew and is only $7.99

coffee strainer

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