Monday, February 17, 2014

A Plague Of Coffee Pods

I'm a coffee person, I usually start the day with an Americano or three.

For a couple years I've made do with one of Krups' $60 espresso makers. Design-wise it's a disaster: the On light is dim, the basket usually falls out when being emptied, the lid can't be removed from the carafe, and a rubber foot went missing. But its only waste product are the grounds that go into the kitchen compost.

Which is an order of magnitude better than the rampant 'coffee pods' craze featured in yesterday's Seattle Times.

I've stayed in hotels that have Keurig machines in every room -- the really nice ones hooked directly into the plumbing, so you don't even need to pour water into a tank.

Made chiefly by Keurig and Nestlé, the machines ARE fun and easy to use, I'll give them that -- Drop, Latch, Drink. But as noted by the Times the systems are problematic from an environmental standpoint, in that some plastic pods aren't recyclable, others recyclable but with difficulty, or not recyclable everywhere.

Reusable pods you refill yourself are available, but that renders the pod machines the same as traditional ones, and the Times makes it clear users like the convenience (and perceived 'freshness' of sealed prepacked pods) and care less about the waste.


Seattle Times
So the popularity of coffee pods plus the disposal problem adds up to an enormous wastestream, and it's on this point that the manufacturers should be singled out for special indictment.

Clearly, they conceived of these systems, and designed, produced, marketed, and popularized them, with waste a primary feature -- and no real plan to deal with it.

Other than the same plan used by notorious polluters since the dawn of the industrial age -- dump it, and let the commons sort it out.

The full cost of coffee pod systems is subsidized by waste utility ratepayers.

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