If a noted YouTuber gets his way, you may finally be able to recycle your K-Cups. That would be great news, because right now Keurig’s single-serve pods are a guilty pleasure (emphasis on the guilty). The huge number that ends up in landfills every year has inspired viral videos and even turned their creator against them. But the truth is, environmentally harmful or not, K-Cups will continue to be part of the coffee landscape. So Andrew Grantham—who, until now, was best known for lending his voice to a bacon-crazed dog on YouTube—is tackling the problem with his Kickstarter for Podcycle.
One of the biggest problems holding back K-Cup recycling is that the pods are composed of four different materials: the plastic cup, the foil wrapper, the paper filter and the coffee grounds themselves. Unless those components are completely separated from one another, they can’t be recycled. Grantham’s little device does just that. It takes minimal effort and time—just a few twists of a dial. That’s good because as James Hamblin noted in his Atlantic piece on the problems with K-Cups, the sort of person inclined to use the pods in the first place is not the sort of person likely to undertake a labor-intensive recycling process.
The other issue with K-Cup recycling, though, is that few recycling centers will take the type of plastic that makes up the bulk of the pod—plastic No. 7. Grantham tries to address that with preprinted labels and instructions on how to send your plastic off to someone who will recycle it, presumably after you’ve emptied a few cases of pods. It’s not as easy as just putting them in the blue bin in your driveway, but it’s a good first step.
And while it might not be quite as sleek as the edible coffee pod prototype, the mission to start recycling K-Cups is certainly worth undertaking.