They have become the cigarette butt of the coffee industry — at least from a recycling perspective.
The small, airtight plastic coffee brewing capsules, best known by the brand name K-Cup, have become ubiquitous in home and office kitchens, replacing coffee pots by offering fast, clean, single-serve brews with a variety of flavors.
There's just one problem — the coffee capsules are tough to recycle. And with industry-leader Keurig Green Mountain estimating it sold 9.8 billion K-Cup portion packs sold last year, that has sparked environmental concerns. There's even a Kill the K-Cup video.
Enter Trenton-based TerraCycle, a company known for taking on complex recycling and "upcycling" challenges. TerraCycle launched the world's first cigarette butt recycling program in 2012 and has now turned its attention to the plastic coffee capsules.