Inventor of coffee pods: ‘I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it’

AUSTRALIANS are obsessed with coffee pods. We consume up to 3 million every day and coffee pod companies now make billions of dollars a year from our caffeine addictions.

But now the guy who invented one of the world’s most popular coffee pods has slammed his creation as expensive and bad for the environment.

John Sylvan is one of the inventors of K-Cup, a coffee pod sold in the US. Last year Americans bought 9 million K-Cups and K-Cup’s parent company, Keurig Green Mountain, made $4.7 billion in revenue.

Mr Sylvan sold his share of the company for just $50,000 in 1997, so maybe he’s just feeling a little hard done by.

But despite their popularity with other Americans, Mr Sylvan has admitted he doesn’t even use the pods he invented.

“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” he said in a candid interview with The Atlantic. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

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While coffee pods are convenient, environmentalists say this convenience comes at too great a cost to the environment.

K-Cups are made from plastic and foil and are still not recyclable or biodegradable.

“No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” Mr Sylvan said. “The plastic is a specialised plastic made of four different layers.”

In January, K-Cup found themselves at the centre of a parody video called ‘Kill the K-Cup’, a satirical clip making fun of our obsession with coffee pods.

In the video, a huge monster made entirely of coffee pods storms through a city street destroying everything in its path — a metaphor for environmental destruction.

The hashtag #KillTheKCup started trending on social media and a Change.org petition titled ‘Keurig must make universally recyclable K-Cup coffee pods now’ was started.

Some brands, like Nespresso (their pods are made from aluminium) offer to recycle their used pods for you, but you have to take them to specific collection points.

In 2013, Nespresso said it collected “75% of all capsules sold worldwide”, according to consumer group Choice.

“But while it may have collected 75% of the capsules, Nespresso doesn’t say whether that many have actually been recycled, “ Choice says.

“Nespresso has sold an estimated 28 billion capsules worldwide and counting – that’s about 28 million kilograms of aluminium, much of which may be sitting in landfill.”

And now you can buy sustainable coffee pods from brands like EcoCaffe.

Chief sustainability officer of Keurig Green Mountain (which owns K-Cup) Monique Oxender, acknowledges the brand has a long way to go.

“I gotta be honest with you,” Oxender said, “we’re not happy with where we are either. We have to get a solution, and we have to get it in place quickly.”

Originally published in News.com.au http://bit.ly/2rBLYdY

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