The K-cup pods fit into Keurig’s popular single-serve coffeemaker. The company told the North Jersey News that it had to use plastic because no other container kept the coffee as fresh.
According to an anonymous analyst quoted in the North Jersey News, Keurig produced enough single-serve coffee pods over last year alone to circle the Earth 10 times. Who knows how many circumnavigations will be possible over the next 15 years?
A plethora of non-licensed and often environmentally-friendly versions has grown up around the machines and pods since Keurig’s patent expired in 2012, but the company launched a new version late last year which rejects indie-branded pods. More than a dozen US companies have posted lawsuits in response.
Keurig’s system has hit mainstream popularity only over the last three to five years, but it was actually invented in 1992. Nestle’s Nespresso system, a similar set-up which is more dominant in New Zealand, is even older – it was patented in 1976.
In New Zealand, Nespresso asks customers to return its aluminum pods to its Nespresso outlets in Auckland and Wellington after use so that it can collect and recycle them. It has also taken the opportunity to market a $35 recycling container which can hold up to 100 used capsules. Its description is quite something: “Elegant and ergonomic design. Realized in ABS with chromium plating, this sealable container facilitates the recovery of the used capsules and their transportation to the next collection point in full safety.”
Young Auckland entrepreneurs Jayden Klinac and Josh Cole secured the rights in 2013 to distribute pods by Nespresso competitor, the Ethical Coffee Company, in New Zealand. They trade as the Honest Coffee Company. Klinac told the New Zealand Herald that they wanted to start educating people about waste.
“There was a growing group of people who loved the idea of [Nespresso] but refused to get the machine because of its impact on the environment.”