Kill the “Kill the K-Cup” Movement

Growing consumer interest in eco-friendly products has led various companies to invent new environmentally conscious products. For example, Patagonia is embracing this trend by creating high-end outdoors equipment made out of recycled materials. Other companies have had more difficulty in adapting to new consumer preferences.

One particular concern for consumers is eco-friendly product packaging. Consumers find themselves asking: Is the packaging recyclable? Is it biodegradable? Could the company have worked harder to create eco-friendly packaging?

Jon Stewart humorously addresses a major packaging faux pas in this video segment titled, “Pantry of Shame.”

Kill the K-Cup

Individually packaged bananas are not the only items on the market right now with substantial environmental implications. Keurig, a company known for its single-serving coffee brewing system, has been in the news recently for its negative impact on the environment. In 2010, a New York Times article revealed that the single-serve K-Cup pods are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Jon Sylvan, the inventor of the single-serve Keurig K-Cup, made a statement in The Atlantic last week regretting his invention and expressing concerns regarding his invention’s environmental impact. Other people have expressed similar concerns about Keurig’s products. Two months ago, a video was released on YouTube called “Kill the K-Cup.” The video features overdramatized apocalyptic imagery which is used to express an underlying concern that K-Cups can destroy our environment.

CSR Response

Keurig chose to approach this situation by launching a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign called “Grounds to Grow on.” The company asserts that by 2020, 100% of its K-Cup products will be recyclable. Although the company was forced to address consumers’ environmental concerns through public shaming, Keurig has made a commitment to reducing its environmental footprint. Let’s hope that in the future more corporations will design more eco-friendly products before reaching the point of public embarrassment.


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