Are Keurig Pods Recyclable? This Is How To Recycle Your K-Cups

Mike C
Written By Mike C

I've been writing about coffee and espresso machines for 3 years. My goal is to provide you with helpful content that you can trust based on my own personal experiences, information from manufacturers, and tips and tricks I've gathered from other coffee and espresso machine users.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

How To Recycle Keurig Pods

If you look at your box of K-cups, you’ll probably see a green recyclable flag. So Keurig pods are recyclable, right? The short answer is, usually. However, K-cup recycling has been the focus of a class action lawsuit that Keurig recently settled for ten million dollars. The lawsuit claimed Keurig misled customers about the widespread recyclability of its pods. Since then, the company has made several updates to its pods, packaging and website. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Keurig coffee pod recycling.

What Are Keurig K-Cups Pods Made Of?

Keurig pods were originally made of a #7 plastic. This is a much more difficult type of plastic to recycle. Old K-Cups often tended to be too small, which added to the difficulty of Keurig recycling. Since the end of 2018 in Canada and 2020 in the US, all Keurig K cups are larger and produced with a plastic that is recyclable in most communities. The more recyclable K-Cup pod is now made with a #5 plastic called polypropylene. If you take a look at the bottom of the single serve coffee pod, you should see the #5 plastic symbol.

Can Keurig K-Cups Be Recycled In My Area?

Keurig chose this specific type of plastic because it is accepted in the majority of recycling programs across North America. The keyword here is “majority.” Since the lawsuit, Keurig has since added a larger disclaimer to its packaging calling out that the pods cannot be recycled in ALL communities. The complexity arises from the fact that guidelines for what can be recycled will vary by location. In the US there are over twenty thousand recycling systems! The only way to know for sure if Keurig K-Cups can be recycled in your area is to check your local recycling guidelines. You can usually find them on your town’s waste management website.

If you can’t find it there, you can also check and plug in your zip code. If your community doesn’t accept this type of plastic, it is possible that a neighboring one does. You can search a site like to see nearby towns that would take them.

How To Prep Keurig Pods For Recycling?

It’s important to note that the foil lid cannot be recycled. It is too small. You also can’t put pods in the recycling bin if they still have coffee grounds or the paper coffee filter inside them. This is how to recycle Keurig pods:

  1. Peel off the foil top and throw it away. Keurig is rolling out an EASY-PEEL lid on more and more K-cup varieties that will make this process really simple.
  2. Then empty the coffee grinds and the paper filter in the trash or compost
  3. place the white plastic Keurig pod base in the recycling bin.

There is a handy tool on Amazon called Recycle A Cup cutter that makes this entire process super easy. You just attach the tool to the top of the pod, twist it around and then remove it. The top of the K-cup will be in the tool when you remove it. This makes it really easy to dump out the paper filter and the coffee grinds in the trash or composting. Compositing coffee is easy – just add the grinds onto your pile and mix it around. Once you do this, you’ll be left with the white plastic cup base that can be tossed in the recycling.

Other Ways To Reduce Environmental Impact of Using a Keurig

Did you know that you can brew your own coffee grinds in a Keurig? You just need to get a reusable filter. Reusable K-cups will allow you to use your own coffee grinds with your pod coffee maker. If you do that, you’ll end up tossing less plastic in the recycling bin. Not only is this probably better for the environment, but it can also help you save money! Using a reusable K-Cup often ends up being cheaper than buying pods.

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