Wow, I am behind the times. The closer we get to the holidays the more I see single-cup coffee brewers everywhere. I am flabbergasted that people would 1) actually think yummy coffee could be brewed from a disposable cup and 2) be fine with the disgusting amount of waste produced by such ridiculous machines.
(Coffee from JustUs! last winter.... yum yum)
Lets take a quick peak at what a single use 'barcode' cup of coffee could actually mean for the environment.
Packaging: Each cup comes packaged in two-three different types of material, from plastic lined aluminum lids to the mysterious plastic cups. Although both Tassimo and Keurig have claimed that they were trying to find solutions neither cups are easily recyclable. Actually, if you'd like politic-speak- check out Tassimo's answer to 'Are T-Discs recyclable?':
The T DISC outer bag is composed of an aluminum, polyester and polyethylene laminate (to ensure freshness) and is suitable for energy recovery through incineration. (what the eff does that even mean???) The inner carton dispenser is composed of paperboard and is completely recyclable.What utter crap- a total non-answer. In HRM only #1 and #2 plastics are acceptable and there is no indication as to the recycling number. To top it all off, even if they were easily recyclable, we all know that with each recycle the plastic is degraded making recycling not our go-to answer. (plus, each cup is made from virgin plastic... so no plastic saving on their end at all).
For the T DISC itself, in locations where plastic collection systems exist, you can cut away the label, rinse the remaining coffee grounds or tea leaves from the chamber and deposit the chamber and label with general plastics in your blue box (non PET). (Tassimo, FAQ)
Okidoki, so lets assume that the plastic isn't recyclable. Say you have a two person (or two coffee drinking person) household. You drink two cups of coffee each per day. That's 27 cups a week, 1,452 a year. Of course we should factor in an extra 5 (ish) cups a week for company, that's another 260 a year, so a grand total (conservative, cuz lots of people drink more than two cups a day) of 1,712 a year. For one household. That's a lot of effing plastic for some freeze-dried milk and coffee.
Since we know recycling really is a piss poor solution, Green Mountain (a supposedly sustainable 'responsible' company that made over 800$ billion last year from Keurig K-cup sales) has been reportedly looking into 'biodegradable' solutions since 2006-2007. As we've chatted about previously, 'biodegradable' plastic really isn't a viable solution as A) it would need to stand up to the hot water used to make the coffee and thus be a more robust 'bio-plastic' resulting in B) needing high heat municipal composting system to process, not your backyard compost. Also, HRM does not accept 'bio-plastics' in our municipal composting system so they would all go in the landfill anyway, never to break down in the non-oxygen environment of black plastic bags (ideas and info from Sustainable is Good).
Lets say you really don't care about the impact of flooding a section of where you live with petroleum based plastic that will continue to live on for thousands of years (haha, who reading this doesn't care though really?), what about the cost?
The price for these weirdo caffeine pods range from about 3 to 11$ and I would assume the more pricey the better the taste. And really, if you're going to spend a whole bunch of money on these, why would you buy crappy freeze-dried coffee? You'd buy nice freeze-dried coffee. So let's say you'd spend about 7$ for 12 cups. That's 58 cents per cup of coffee (um, not factoring in the price of the machine). With our household estimate of 1,712 a year, that's 992.96$ a year. Wow.
Lets compare that to what Andrew and I spend for our whole bean, fair trade organic coffee that we grind with our crappy 20$ grinder and french press (yum!) which would be in the upper range for whole bean coffee. A large 1 pound bag is about 26$ and takes us about 6 to 8 weeks to demolish. Say we loaded our french press up with coffee grinds and it only took us 4 weeks. For the cream of the crop of pricey coffee beans that's only 312$ a year.
Single use coffee brewing machines are not only catastrophically wasteful in our already overloaded landfills but are also stupidly expensive. When looking for that perfect 'espresso' gift to give a coffee lover, why not purchase a 1 litre french press complete with a beautiful fancy coffee grinder and a bag of fair trade organic espresso roasted beans. Add some delicious fair trade organic chocolate (powder or syrup) and you have delicious coffee that is easy on the planet and your gift receivee's wallet.
article copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com