Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine


TerraCycle, Keurig team up for coffee pod recycling pilot

*Editor’s Note: TerraCycle is profiled in the cover story of the August/ September 2014 edition of Solid Waste and Recycling magazine.

*Editor’s Note: TerraCycle is profiled in the cover story of the August/ September 2014 edition of Solid Waste and Recycling magazine.

OfficeMax Grand & Toy has teamed with TerraCycle for a coffee pod recycling pilot project in southern Ontario.

The pilot project focuses on Keurig’s K-Cup Packs, small plastic pods filled with ground coffee that enable the convenience of making one quick cup of coffee.

Until now, the coffee pods have not been recyclable through retailers in Canada, but if the pilot program is successful it is expected to roll out nationally. 

“We launched this program based on the stakeholder feedback that we received from our associates, suppliers and customers who have identified waste and recycling as our most important sustainability issue,” said Serguei Tchertok, sustainability manager for OfficeMax Grand & Toy.

The coffee pod recycling system will come in three different sizes: small, medium and large. The cost of the boxes will be $52.99, $96.99, and $136.99, respectively. The price of the box includes the cost of recycling via TerraCycle and the prepaid shipping label. When the box is full, customers can ship the box directly to TerraCycle for processing. 

“TerraCycle is thrilled that OfficeMax Grand & Toy has partnered to launch Canada’s first K-Cup Packs retailer recycling program,” said Nina Purewal general manager of TerraCycle Canada. Their leadership in helping us eliminate waste speaks to their commitment to sustainability. We are excited to be able to offer a recycling solution to this waste steam to consumers.” 

For more information, or to purchase the recycling system, visit the OfficeMax Grand & Toy website.

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20 Comments » for TerraCycle, Keurig team up for coffee pod recycling pilot
  1. Lisa Diessel says:

    Hugely disappointed with your K-Cup incentive. Primarily the part where I have to pay! I have been working my butt off in an attempt to keep things out of the waste stream. I have been rewarded with a nominal amount of cash, which I can donate to charity. This is not MY waste… it is the waste of others, many of whom do not give a rat’s ass if this stuff ends up in the garbage or not.

    So now, I feel like I’m being told, “Thanks for your help… here’s your bill”. I already have enough financial burden attempting to keep a respectable home, and to provide for my family, while supporting some other global and/or charitable incentives.

    I was behind you guys 100% prior to this promotion. I hope you can come up with a better plan, one that lines up with your other collections. I get that this is an expense for Keurig, but perhaps that should be recognized by Keurig as part of doing business. I do NOT work for a wealthy company. I am a member of a school board, and I give enough effort trying to get a box of pencils for my students, let alone a box made for saving some garbage from a landfill.

    Thank you. Love you guys otherwise.

    Lisa Diessel
    Educator, Town of Bradford, Ontario

    • Deanna says:

      I have to say it is pretty funny reading all of the comments below and the complete lack of understanding of the costs associated with recycling and garbage disposal. Firstly, there is a cost to throw these things away no matter what you do. Right now you might not see it up front as with the cost for these recycling boxes, but trust me you pay for it, it just comes out of your tax bill for your City to run your landfill. Right now you are paying to fill up a landfill. One day that landfill will be full and then you will also have to pay additional $ to open a new landfill and still pay for the k-cup disposal on top of this.

      SO obviously the better option is to recycle the k-cups, to save you having to pay the extra $ to open another landfill. The thing is, the situation with these k-cups is that there is no revenue generated during the recycling of these pods (unlike with batteries and electronics – that’s why those drop boxes are usually free, they pay for themselves). With k-cups in the end someone has to pay do the work to recycle the waste, and that person is the consumer. The question is whether the consumer pays for the cost up front with a environmental levy or pays for it at the end such as through a system like this box system is starting.

      Paying the cost up front through a levy is a much better way of dealing with this, as people will much more happily take the time to find a way to recycle them if they don’t have to pay to do so and the funding is already in place to recycle them once their ready to be thrown away. However people also straight up HATE seeing environmental levies on the bottom of their bill at the supermarket. They complain so much about any new levy to their politicians that governments are unwilling to move forward with systems like this. So the next option is to build the cost of recycling into the initial purchase price (again passed onto the consumer), and then the manufacturer becomes responsible for the task of recycling. The problem is unless governments tell manufacturers that they have to do this, they never will because inevitably someone else will continue selling the cups at a lower price without the recycle service and the consumer will almost always chooses the cheaper product.

      So basically my point is, stop complaining and pay for the damn box. Either way you as the consumer WILL pay to manage the waste, whether it is through this box system, through your taxes to run a landfill, paid for as a environmental levy, or paid for as built into the product price. At least this way if you buy the box, you get some satisfaction out of doing the right thing and can start recycling now. Waiting for governments to act and demand that manufacturers such as green mountain set-up recycling systems for their individual products isn’t happening anytime soon.

  2. Maria says:

    Are you out of your gourds? I was so excited to see there was a news post for k-cups. I have been waiting and looking for a K-cup brigade. I was like “finally , this is awesome!” until I read it and learned I need to pay for a special box. No thanks. And I don’t believe people will pay for this service. Seems like a money grab for Grand and Toy to me. The Keurig company needs to step up and support the reuse of their products waiste.

  3. Tamara says:

    Was impressed to finally see k cup recycling being offered, but quickly saddened by the cost factor. I guess my work/ household will not be participating.

  4. Renee says:

    Extremely disappointed in the cost of the k-cup program. We as the ‘brigade’ members are collecting waste to send to you, which in turns makes you a profit. This is done as a voluntary thing so that we can help support causes that are close to us. Now we have to pay to do that, which means no more ‘profit’ for our charity.I was so excited for both the environmental impact this could make as well as the charity factor. Sadly, I will not be participating in this program either. When you re-evaluate your programs and priorities, perhaps I will consider then….

  5. joan says:

    Remember this is a ‘Pilot project’. So the kinks and bugs should be worked out during the test period. I would assume that you can fit hundreds of empty K-cups stacked into the box so that you would only use one or two boxes per year. At any rate that is how I would design a box.

  6. Dawn Sadler says:

    Like the other responders before me… I went from being excited to utter disappointment that G&T is charging for a box that our non-profit, charitable organization would have to pay for (not in this lifetime!) the “privilege” of recycling the K-cups. We are signed up for TerraCycle and are on the “wait list” for Tassimo cups. This “new partnership” benefits who, exactly? Office Max/G&T??? Terracycle??? Do you really think this is going to fly??? How disappointing… so contrary to what I believed TerraCycle stands for.

    • Gail says:

      I totally agree. I lead an environment club at my school and there is no way we can afford to buy a box for this. So disappointing.

  7. Gail says:

    I to find it unsettling that there is such a huge charge for this service. This will definitely be a deterrent to participation in the program. I lead an environment club at my school and was excited about the possibilities until I saw the cost. I believe the the corporate sponsors should absorb this cost to offset the free advertising it will provide for them. I notice that there have been no replies to the comments posted so far, which speaks volumes to me about the commitment these organizations have to the environment and their customers. Very disappointing.

  8. Linda says:

    I am also very disappointed with the cost of this service. I have been trying to make my coworkers more aware of all the waste generated by all the Kcups they use each day. I admit that I use kcups occasionally but have mostly switched to coffee pods that are just like a tea bag. No plastic to try and figure out how to dispose of. Switch to pods, you can use your keurig and will only have the package each pod comes in to dispose of. We are able to dispose of the pod in our green bin each week which is compost items. Cleaner and simpler. Find a good pod adapter for you keurig and enjoy guilt free.

  9. Sue says:

    Very Very disappointed in this joke!!… pay G&T for boxes?? really??! (could have sworn G&T actually make and sell boxes don’t they??)
    It’s very sad to see that so many people and organizations/schools/churches/companies/individuals are trying hard to find ways to keep these kcups out of our landfills, (why Keurig itself isn’t doing something regarding recycling of their plastic garbage is another question) encourage others to do the same and then donate small earned funds to charity, came here excited to see that a program was being set up… only to be slapped in the face with a huge charge for trying to help our environment…. disgusting.. I am extremely disappointed in all three companies and will now think twice before using or promoting them again. Fix this please, it’s just wrong!

  10. Deborah Dorner says:

    Shame on Keurig for even coming up with the polluting K cups idea! Shame on them for not taking responsibility for the cost of recycling.

  11. Donna says:

    Just heard about this through an article in Canadian Packaging and have to say I too was excited until I learned that I’d have to pay a minimum of
    $56.99 plus tax for a box to collect them in. Until someone comes up with a better solution, I’ll keep throwing mine in the trash, or reusing them for seed pods or some kind of kids craft as I’ve seen on Facebook.

  12. Terrie says:

    I was also interested to learn about a K-cup recycling option – but not at the price! However, still feeling guilty about using the very convenient K-cups at home, we’ve started our own recycling effort. We save up the used cups and once a week have a “separation” activity that is a bit messy ( which is why it’s only done once a week – one mess!) so the we can put the grounds and the filters into our green organic recycling bin, and the plastic cups and foil lids into our blue recycling bins. Works for me and I feel much less guilty now! 😉

  13. Glen says:

    I was also very excited to see a program for recycling these cups but the fact that you want us to spend more money to get this done was a real set back (government program) . I may have to toss the keurig system I have as there is a free disposal point for the Tassimo T-cups! Way better deal and theY pay for this by changing the plastic and foil into consumer products for sale. Time to step up and be accounted for Keurig!

  14. nick says:

    Prohibitive pricing indeed. People will spend time and effort – perhaps a nominal fee – but not this price. Maybe the vendor should be required to levy a fee for such recycling, perhaps 0.05$ a cup. In any event, below is someone thinking g outside the box. For $20 you can recycle your own keeps easily. See below.

  15. Cathy says:

    We operate a fairly large bed and breakfast and have a k cup machine in our lounge for our guests convenience. When I first discovered the recycle box I was excited and purchased one. It filled up really quickly and I purchased another one.

    I now agree with all the other comments regarding the cost of this box. We make every effort to recycle at our b&b, as do our guests, but the cost of this box is just too prohibitive for me. If I keep buying these boxes it will cost me about $165 a month minimum.

    Keurig is making so much money off these pods – they most certainly should step up and subsidize this program.

    Terracycle should offer some discount on these boxes as well if you keep buying them as they are just cardboard boxes with a plastic liner. The cost of the shipping and the box is certainly not worth $53.00.

    Very disappointed.

    (By the way, I try not to buy official blessed Keurig k cups and purchase those made by the little guys. Small businesses have to stick together!)

  16. Terrie says:

    I really do not agree with this new idea.I refuse to pay more to ship the pods….I presently recycle by emptying the coffee grains in my garden ,the liner in the garbage and the plastic container and the foil lids in my recycle bin…so I can do all the work myself….at no cost…
    Consumers are bleed to death with tax upon tax and now this……… increase in cost for shipping to you the pods,,,
    Hummmm ! I will call this the Keurig Pod Tax….
    Very disappointed that once again the consumer is penalized.

    • Sally says:

      The problem Terri, is that the plastic pods are NOT recyclable through your local recycle program. That is why these are such a huge environmental issue! So by putting the pods in your local recycling bin, you are creating work on the other end for the people who sort the recycling.

      Bottom line – stop buying these horrible machines that make sub-par coffee to begin with, and fill up our landfills with their non-recyclable trash. If you want a single serving of coffee use a Bodum or the pour over method.

  17. Donna says:

    Today Nespresso tells me to check out the website in order to dispose of those aluminum Nespresso capsules I’ve been saving for their recycling program. What a crock! I see by the above comments this is just another corporate money grab by Grand & Toy. Buy boxes & ship them? Not likely! Big mistake I made – buying this machine instead of a regular espresso machine. I will take a smaller loss by dumping my machine in the landfill, (would that the the plastic & metal could be recycled in our local recycling system – it can’t); emptying the aluminum capsules by hand for recycling (aluminum) and grounds (to my composter.) Then when I can afford it again, purchase a regular espresso machine. Folks, we the people, need to take a step back and be wary of corporate greed before each convenience we purchase! Corporations really don’t care about destroying the planet – only about a bigger bottom line .

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