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Green Ways to Use K-Cups

Updated on March 26, 2010

Keurig brewers users are often concerned about the environment and what their coffee drinking habits to do the environment. If you are one of the many Keurig brewer owners, how do you do your part for the environment? How do you recycle your K-Cups? If you're looking for greener ways to use Keurig K-Cups, read on to find out more. And remember to share your environmentally friendly K-Cups methods below.

Anatomy of Keurig K-Cups

Currently K-Cups are created with three layers. The outermost layer, an impermeable layer, keeps out the air, moisture and light so that K-Cups always deliver a fresh taste! Have you ever seen inside the K-Cup? Check out video below to find out more about the structure of a Keurig K-Cup. Understand how the different K-Cups components are a key part of keeping Keurig coffee fresh.

Greener K-Cups

Keurig and its parent company Green Mountain Coffee are currently working to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their beloved Keurig brewers—not only by reducing the wasteful packaging of Keurig K-Cups, but also by trying to reduce its overall footprint by researching, what they are calling, the lifecycle of Keurig coffee. In trying to understand the waste that Keurig K-Cups produce, Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee are thoroughly researching every step of the Keurig coffee creation process from tree to K-Cup. Throughout the coffee preparation process, the packaging process and the consumption process, Keurig is committed to reducing the amount of waste that results as a by-product. This way, Keurig will discover where they can cut down on Keurig K-Cup waste.


Currently you can recycle two-thirds of the Keurig K-Cup! The foil layer can be pulled off and thrown in with your aluminum cans, while the paper filter can be extracted and placed in your newspaper bin. But be sure to clean off any debris, ensuring that you keep down the cost of recycling and making jobs at the recycling plant streamlined.


To use Keurig brewers in an environmentally friendly way, you could always go another route! Luckily Keurig brewers created a My K-Cup so that Keurig lovers could enjoy convenient and efficient coffee without harming the environment. The same clean, quick coffee is available without all the recycling and waste! All the coffees that Keurig lovers know and love also come in non K-Cups form. The original coffee bean can be purchased in a bag. And the coffee can be ground and placed in a handy My K-Cup. My K-Cups a fine mesh filter inserts that work seamlessly with your favorite Keurig brewer. You can simply grind your coffee for the freshest handy and place in a My K-Cup. By grinding your coffee favored Keurig coffee and by using a handy My K-Cup, you can have more control over the taste of your coffee. The filter mesh is so fine that Keurig lovers are capable of experimenting with grind size. By trying out different grind sizes, Keurig brewers owners have the added bonus of changing the taste of their coffee.


One of the best ways to make the most of your K-Cup waste, is to reuse the remaining plastic pod. While two thirds of Keurig K-Cups are recyclable, the plastic portion of Keurig K-Cups are currently not recyclable. The remaining plastic K-Cup is the perfect size for arts and crafts around the home or at school. Some Keurig users donate their amassed K-Cups to local schools and nurseries, allowing kids to create 3-D crafts during playtime. Other Keurig users create projects at home to fully reintegrate the K-Cup plastic pods into a second life. Keurig users have used the plastic pods in the garden. Keurig K-Cups can be great for creating small seedlings, which are then later transferred into larger pots. Keurig users have also used Keurig K-Cups for arts and crafts at home. Find some down time with the kids or in the shed and make build something fun with the Keurig K-Cups. Or, Keurig K-Cups could be reused in a more conventional way. Simply extract the paper filter from the used K-Cup, refill the K-Cup with mini-filter (like a cutout of a normal paper coffee filter), fill the K-Cup with fresh coffee grinds of your choice, and simply brew your coffee all over again!

Future of Keurig K-Cups

As you find greener ways to use your Keurig K-Cups, Keurig company is brewing up some environmentally friendly futures for Keurig K-Cups as well! Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee have started in 2010 a research project dedicated to creating a recyclable K-Cup. At the moment, the plastic is essential for keeping the coffee inside completely fresh and dry. The plastic is also designed to withstand the high pressure and extremely hot temperatures that are incorporated into the brewing process. The structural makeup of the K-Cup's plastic pod also needs to be sturdy enough to hold that coffee in place, but it also must be malleable enough to allow the tubes to puncture the K-Cup to create and extract the coffee. Any new Keurig K-Cup must be able to tick all the above boxes to ensure that Keurig coffee is fresh and convenient.

As Keurig maintains the integrity of fresh Keurig coffees, the research group is looking for innovative ways to not only make the Keurig K-Cup plastic recyclable, but they are also looking into ways to make the entire Keurig process integrate carbon neutral process, and incorporate renewable, biodegradable, compostable and petroleum-free materials.

But while Keurig researches the a new future for Keurig K-Cups, how do you use Keurig K-Cups in an environmentally friendly way?


Green K-Cups

What do you think the future of Keurig K-Cups looks like?

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    • profile image

      Dumb 5 years ago

      Or use them for ashtrays so you can keep the pollution contained within arms reach.

    • profile image

      Dumb 5 years ago

      Actually, use them for stylish clothing!

    • profile image

      Dumb 5 years ago

      Planter seedling pots you dumbasses

    • profile image

      Jim Barlow 5 years ago

      Everything about K-Ciups is good except the waste part, Make us a biodegradable cup otherwise I will stick to my conventional method. and hurry time is a wastin'

    • profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago

      My husbands parents gave us a keurig machine for Christmas. I hate the coffee and the machine. We have well water so it always needs to be descaled. I think the coffee taste week an I hate the cost and the wastefulness of the k-cups. I do compost my coffee grounds so I take the k-cups apart and recycle the plastic, and use the used grounds in my garden. Quite a process and pain in the neck.

    • profile image

      Greg 6 years ago

      Hemp-based outer shells are easily designed & utilized.

      I suggested this to Green Mountain two years ago, we'll see what happens...

    • profile image

      Tony 6 years ago

      I am a Director of operations at a private school 2 months ago I put a call out for used K-cups. The response was great. Here is what I do. I take the aluminum top off and recycle, the coffee is collected and put into are compost. Next we take the cups to our greenhouse put them on a tray fill them with potting soil and germinate vegetables to be planted in our 2 acre garden.We will wash them out and start it all over again.

    • profile image

      kathryn 6 years ago

      We are lucky in our community we have a complete food/green waste recycling program as well as general recycling(plastics paper etc) - both of which are curbside pickup from bear-proof containers. The green waste gets composted at a large urban site (they take bones and meat too) and then we buy back the end result as bags of black earth. Recycling the k cups is a bit picky (seperating the filter and grounds from the plastic and the foil) but not that bad and only takes a few minutes to pull everything apart -

      Recycling is made much easier when the political will and infrastructure are there -

    • profile image

      Cathy 6 years ago

      There's a product out there called a K-Cap, that allows you to re-use your K-Cups several times more. It comes with several plastic lids that replace your foil and even new filters. It can be found online.

    • profile image

      Lew 6 years ago

      This isn't a perfect solution but saves some money and waste. I remove the foil lid from my used cups and let the coffee dry. Then I tap out what coffee I can and lightly scrape out the rest with a plastic knife being careful not to damage the filter. When I am ready for a cup of coffee I fill to the top and cover with a small piece of aluminum foil, fitting the foil tightly around the top. When I re-use the cup I try to align the cup over the previously created hole. I am able to get several uses out of the same cup with no loss of quality.

    • profile image

      Pete 6 years ago


    • profile image

      Bob 6 years ago

      Use my K-cup. Coffee stores fine in freezer until ready for use. Keep 1-2 week supply in an airtight jar. Recycle grounds. Cost ~$10/lb. for beans vs. ~$17/lb. for K-cup. Coffee variety choice is not as good, but I got to my favorite critical few regular and decaf flavors. K-cups are #5 not 7, but still a recycle issue. In our area only one recycle center out of 26 can handle #5. I think Dan was tongue in cheek and not worth the blood pressure rise it caused redcape. Prost!!

    • profile image

      redcape 6 years ago

      WTF is wrong with you, Dan? K cups are #7 plastics which may be polycarbonate or may be plastics that do not fit any of the other plastic categories. We don't know and Keurig/Green Mountain isn't telling. Combine that with polyethylene lined foil, ink, and whatever the paper filter has been treated with and you are very likely to be releasing toxins. You have no way of knowing if toxins remain in the ash and then you dump it where it easily enters the water system.

      Trash burning is illegal in many states.

      This is not green.

    • profile image

      Lori 6 years ago

      If you want to compost, use the ez cup and filters. I didn't buy a keurig for the longest time because I hated the idea of the kcup waste. With the ez cup, we use our own coffee and compost the filter with coffee when down. It does amount to a few extra steps but this works for us. Of course, I dream of the day when the kcup is compostable as we all apparently do.

    • profile image

      dan 7 years ago

      I found the perfect solution, since it seems like it is very hard for Keurig to develop a program, I do these easy, and very green steps:

      I collect my K cups for about a month, then I place them in a 55 gallon drum, that has had the top cut away. I then pour about 1/2 a liter of unleaded gas on the cups and burn them.

      When I get enough ash to warrant disposal, I scrape the can, and compost the ash on the banks of this little creek near my house, far enough down so that the spring floods leach out the burial spot. Perfect!

    • profile image

      Diane 7 years ago

      I would love to buy a Keurig, but don't want to pollute!

    • profile image

      Michael 7 years ago

      If you use the My K-Kup you loose some of the choices and variety. Having too many choices of whole bean or ground coffee around will lead to stale and sub par results. This is why I purchase Pods in the individual soft pack form and empty these into the My works great and the cost per serving is a big savings. This way the variety is still available to you.

    • globalcoffeegrind profile image

      globalcoffeegrind 8 years ago

      Looks like great minds... :)

    • zaureny profile image

      zaureny 8 years ago

      Haha, looks like we have the same idea :P


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