Fixing the Keurig Conundrum – Recycling K cups

k cup recycler

Let me say that I love my Keurig.
I can make one cup at a time. With friends we can have different coffees, and I can even grind and brew a cup using a refillable my K cup basket.
The Keurig is convenient, quick, and easy to maintain.
But there is a growing problem.

Recycling the K Cups.

  • A foil or plastic top, sealed to the cup
  • Ground coffee
  • Coffee filter made of paper or hybrid synthetic
  • plastic cup

In it’s entirety, K cups are not recyclable due to having different materials that are hard to break down.  The only way to effectively deal with this is to break apart the k cups individually, and recycle each component, or send them to a facility that does this for you.

If you can’t be bothered, since convenience is the reason why we use store bought K cups in the first place, there are special services:

Coffee Capsule Zero Waste Box (Small 11" x 11" x 20")
Keurig had a mail-in program for recycling K-cups, but since they are switching from #7 to #5 Plastic for the cups, here is their recommended procedure, from Keurig Recycling:
“Since we began working with Preserve’s Gimme 5 program for our Vue® pods in 2013, curbside access to recycling for #5 plastics has increased significantly. With increased access, we are now asking that beginning in April 2016 you drop your brewed Vue® pods in your regular curbside recycling, after removing the lid and coffee grounds, rather than mailing them back through the Preserve program. Please check with your local community to confirm.”

There is a commercially available tool to remove the lid; called the “Medelco Recycle A Cup K-Cup Recycling Tool“:

Medelco Recycle A Cup K-Cup Recycling Tool
Even with the recycling tool (which has recessed cutters) saving the grinds for recycling or compost is a messy affair.  After you remove the lid, digging out the grounds can be messy and rinsing off the filter and cup is necessary to prevent excess mold buildup in the recycled cup.
Being a woodworker gives me an advantage in prototyping a device to make emptying the K cup easier. Here is my design, Which can be duplicated by you or anyone with basic carpentry skills.
It is my pleasure to show you my  K cup recycler prototype:
The device consists of 3 pieces of 1 x 4 pine, assembled with glue and screws (nails would work fine too).  This model fits neatly over a dollar store reusable plastic container, to hold the grounds.
It measures approximately 8 – 1/2 inches wide and 7 – 1/2 inches in height.
Here it is in use:
Wooden k cup recycler in use
TIP:  Let the K cups sit for a day to dry out, the coffee grinds come out easier.
The hole in the top was made with a 1-1/4 inch hole saw.  This image is of me emptying a reusable K cup by tapping it on the block, with the grinds falling through the hole into the container.  An open plastic bag can be placed over the container, so that you can pick up the grinds without pouring them into the bag, so you won’t get grinds all over.
This simple device eliminates the need to spoon or use a popsicle stick to get the grinds out.  All you do is tap the K cup over the hole, and then  rinse the reusable k cup.  A regular k cup would require rinsing, cutting out the paper filter, and then tossing in the recycle bin.  The best part is that the grounds are compostable and will really help out the gardeners tha want to have rich coffee grinds in their soil.  Rose bushes really like them.
I plan to make some improvements in the design, and consider selling them  – any thoughts?  Does it need a kickstarter, or GoFundMe?

Thank you for reading this, and helping recycle some of the 6 billion k cups that are out there!

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