The amount of K-Cup waste created by single-use coffee makers isn’t something we’re just hearing about. For years, landfills have been piling up with the difficult-to-recycle coffee pods. In 2013, Green Mountain, the owner of Keurig, produced enough of them to circle the Earth 10.5 times. 

What’s new in the K-Cup waste story is that John Sylvan, creator of the Keurig machine, admitted in a recent interview with The Atlantic that he feels bad sometimes that he created it.

Sylvan sold his shares in Keurig for $50,000 in 1997, long before the machine became a regular household appliance. He invented the coffee maker — which makes one cup at a time using coffee pods, or K-Cups — for office use. The idea was to give office workers a tastier coffee option than the pot that had been sitting on the burner for who knows how long. He never thought it would become a household kitchen appliance.

Nor does it seem he thought about the environmental impact of a one-time use coffee pod — but he’s thinking of it now. The machine that he thought would be used only in offices is now in one in three homes in America, but there isn’t one in Sylvan’s home.

“I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan told The Atlantic. “Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

For those who already own a Keurig coffee maker but don't want to create waste, Keurig makes a reusable filter that can fill with your own coffee. Buying and using one of those filters would be more sustainable than putting the coffee maker in the trash and buying a different kind.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Keurig visionary didn't envision the waste
John Sylvan, who sold his share in Keurig almost 20 years ago, never knew they’d create mountains of landfill trash.