You Need to Stop Drinking Coffee from Pods – Here’s Why

Updated On
Nespresso cups

We may collect a share of sales from items linked to on this page. Learn more.

Have you heard of coffee pods yet?

You probably have.

They’re becoming super popular in the US and Europe right now.

Espresso made from a coffee pod
Photo Brian Black

Meanwhile, drip coffee maker sales have been pretty stagnant.

And it’s not just the US – pod machines sales outsold that of drip coffee markers in Western Europe for the first time last year.

According to Kantar World Panel, Britons have spent a whopping £56.1 million (that’s ~$91 million USD) from 2012 and 2013, equalling about 186 million capsules.

Which, of course, is fantastic for the coffee pod makers’ pockets. Green Mountain, which acquired Keurig back in 2006, netted nearly half a billion dollars last year – most of which came from selling K-Cups and K-Cup machines.

making espresso with a coffee pod
Photo via Star5112

Nestle made 30% on its Nespresso coffee pods, and has sold more than 27 billion pods worldwide as of 2012.

The machines can be found in many offices, apartment buildings, hotels and even in over 700 Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.


Environmentally Unfriendldy Coffee Pods

But, of course, this isn’t about how great the coffee pod industry is doing. It’s about the down side of the industry.

Consider that waste from coffee pods can circle the world nearly 11 times, and only 5% of Green Mountain coffee pods are currently recyclable.

That’s 95% of pods that are sitting in our environment, not degrading.

Kind of ridiculous when you consider that Green Mountain sells fair trade organic coffee.


Plastic Used May Not Be Safe

What’s more, the #7 plastic blend is BPA-free, but as we all know, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. That means that even if the plastic somehow disappears (because you know, magic) then, as Mother Jones has written:

“One concern with this plastic mix is the presence of polystyrene, containing the chemical styrene, which Hoover warns is especially worrisome for workers. A possible carcinogen, styrene can wreak havoc on the nervous systems of those handling it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”.

Green Mountain wouldn’t comment on what kind of plastic goes into its #7 blend of plastic.

The company is aware of the issue with its wasteful K-Cups, and has vowed in its sustainability report to make all of its pods recyclable by 2020 (strange that it should take so long).

There are obviously much more environmentally friendly ways to get coffee, like, you know… Using a washable mug.

And if you weren’t already convinced to head back to your standard brew, the New York times did a comprehensive breakdown of exactly how much the disposable cups cost you! (About $50 a pound, even for the cheapest brands).

  • Sarah Burke

    Sarah is a graduate of the University of College Dublin. After receiving her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, she taught High-school English and History for three years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in writing. In her spare time, Sarah likes to write poetry, go to music festivals and drink wine. Her favorite food is the burrito. She is an avid reader of fantasy novels, an active participant in feminist circles, and will always have an adventure planned in the foreseeable future. Interesting fact: Sarah is fluent in Irish (Gaeilge).

What do you think? Leave a comment!