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Are Single-Serve Coffee Makers Destroying the Planet? (2024 Statistics)

single serve coffee maker environmental impact

Most of us love our Keurig machines. They are convenient, easy to use, and produce a consistent cup of coffee. There are dozens of flavors to try, and some are difficult to find in other formats. However, single-use K-cups can produce a lot of waste, especially if you are a heavy drinker, and many people are concerned about the damage they might be doing to the environment. Keurig is not alone. Many other companies are making similar machines to get in on the action, increasing the number of single-use containers. Keep reading while we look at some facts and statistics to see if we can find out if these cups are as bad as people say.

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Why Do People Like Single-Serve Coffee Makers?

The single-serve coffee maker has some great benefits, which is why it caught on so fast and is still becoming more popular every day. These devices are perfect if you live alone and would otherwise need to brew an entire pot every morning to get you to work. It’s also useful if other people in your family prefer a different type of coffee. In either situation, the single-serve containers allow everyone to have what they need without any left over. There are more than 75 different kinds of coffee available in a single-serve cup, and you can find most of the popular brands.

Keurig Mini K-Cups Starbucks

Are Single-Serve Coffee Makers Bad for the Environment? (Infographic)

Unfortunately, our single-serve coffee makers create a lot of plastic waste. This waste ends up in our landfills, oceans, and virtually everywhere else. Since these machines are so popular, new waste is always getting created. Take a look at these fascinating (and scary) facts about the environmental impact of single-serve coffee makers:

Single Serve Coffee Environmental Impact Infographic Coffee Affection
Feel free to share this image as long as you link back to for attribution.

More Fascinating Single-Serve Coffee Statistics:
person holding coffee capsules
Image Credit: Kous9, Unsplash

What Can We Do About Single Serving Cups?

The best way to avoid adding single-serving cups to the environment is to switch to a standard coffee pot. There might be coffee left over, and it isn’t nearly as convenient if you have other family members that drink different kinds of coffee, but your coffee costs will be much lower than with single-serving cups even if you discard the extra coffee. You can throw the grounds into a compost heap to help improve the environment.

Since 2020, Keurig has started to produce recyclable K-cups as part of their Road to Recyclability. They began working towards recyclable materials back in 2011 and finally found success, with more than 90% of the pods recoverable to turn into other products. Other brands have been creating recyclable serving cups for much longer, and some of them allow you to reuse their cups. Keurig had to consider backward compatibility for the millions of units already in use.

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Single-serving coffee makers are indeed destroying the planet with an unbelievable amount of waste created for convenience. Luckily, Keurig has moved to 100% recyclable K-cups as of 2020, so we can begin to cut down on the waste. However, billions of these cups are already in our landfills and oceans, so the damage is already done. We highly recommend giving the old coffee pot another try. It isn’t hard and doesn’t take much longer, and the coffee will usually be less than half the price. If you need to use single-serving cups, we highly recommend using the brands that allow you to refill the cups, so you don’t need to create more litter.

We hope you have enjoyed this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If you think more people should know how much waste these machines create, please share our look into if single-serve coffee makers are destroying the planet on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Sylvain Thrd, Unsplash


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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