Project overview

We worked with Keurig to help explore the potential to recover even more small-format plastics. In 2016, Keurig committed to increasing the recyclability of their K-Cup® pods. The coffee company set a goal of converting to 100% recyclable materials by 2020.

Recycle BC supported the sorting and testing of the new K-Cup® pods.

How It Worked

We worked with Keurig and our post-collection partners, Emterra Environmental and Merlin Plastics, to facilitate testing in the sorting and recycling facilities.

Keurig used a sophisticated testing process where RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology was used to track where their K-Cup® pods end up in the material sorting line to determine if small format polypropylene plastics make it to the container line, and once there, will optical sorting technology capture small format polypropylene plastic items.


Small-format polypropylene plastics has a stronger recovery potential and economic value proposition in BC than previously believed. An average of 92% of the new K-Cup® pods made it to the container lines at Emterra and Merlin, and they were easy for machines to sort into the correct stream.

Optical sorters at Merlin captured an average of 91% of incoming polypropylene pods, Keurig’s highest capture rate documented to date. Learn more about our work with Keurig by reading the Globe and Mail article or our Case Study.

How to Recycle Your Single-use Coffee Pods

Be sure to recycle your own single-use coffee pods to be a part of the solution!

  1. Before throwing in the recycling, remove the plastic foil or top
  2. Remove any coffee grounds that are still in the pod with a rinse
  3. Place the empty coffee pod container into your recycling bin