Keurig agrees that coffee pod recyclability of K-Cup Pods suits

News & Society

  • Author Lisa K
  • Published December 4, 2021
  • Word count 645

Keurig has settled a class action suit concerning the company's claims regarding recyclability.

Keurig Green Mountain reached a tentative settlement with a consumer that is suing the company for its claims regarding coffee pod recyclability.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in November 2018. It alleges that the company deceives consumers by claiming that its polypropylene K-Cups can be recycled.

The details of the deal, which represents the second major settlement in recent months over brand owners’ recyclability claims, have not been made public.

Kathleen Smith, a Lafayette resident, sued Keurig Green Mountain. She claimed that Keurig instructed customers to remove the metal foil from used K-Cups and to compost or dispose of the coffee grounds. Then, they advised consumers to recycle the cup and filter.

The lawsuit claims that the cups can fall through the sorting screens at material recovery facilities (MRFs). This is due to their small size, especially after being compacted in pickup trucks. After they're disposed off, however. The suit claims that cups can be contaminated by other recyclables if they are not disposed of at the MRF. Even if the cups are sorted, bagged, and sold to a plastics recycler, the residual metals and food contaminants can make them difficult or impossible to recycle.

Keurig requested that the case be dismissed citing a variety of reasons. Keurig claimed that the plaintiff failed to distinguish between its original coffee pods and its recycled PP pods. This claim was made after Keurig tested the pods with recycling companies to confirm their recyclability. KW Plastics, Merlin Plastics, and others were involved in the K-Cup recycling trials.

Keurig also argued that its marketing language conforms with the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides. California statutes reference them because Keurig informs consumers that the cups can't be recycled in all communities, and instructs them "check locally."

Keurig demanded that the case be dismissed. They cited a number of reasons. Keurig claimed that plaintiff failed to distinguish between original coffee pods from its recyclable PP pods. These PP pods were introduced in 2017. After testing with recycling organizations to ensure their recylability, they were launched in 2017. KW Plastics was and Merlin Plastics were both involved in the K-Cup recycling trial.

Keurig also moved to dismiss the case. Keurig claimed its marketing language was compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides. California statutes refer to them. Keurig tells customers that the cups are not recyclable in all areas and asks them to "check local."

Not yet available details of the agreement

The parties filed a notice on Oct 26 informing the judge they had reached a principle agreement after completing mediation sessions and further negotiation this year. The filing requests Judge Gilliam delay the case until the parties make the terms of their agreement (currently in a termsheet) into a legal settlement document.

Gilliam approved on October 27 an order giving parties until February 24, 2022, to file a motion for preliminary acceptance of the class-action settlement.

The details of the agreements between Smith and Keurig were not disclosed. Smith filed a complaint asking Judge Gilliam for an order to Keurig that it stop making recycling claims, and to conduct a "corrective advertisement and information campaign." Smith also requested Judge Gilliam to order Keurig pay restitution to all class members and damages as well as punitive damages.

Lexington Law Group, a California law firm, filed the lawsuit. Lexington Law Group has filed a variety of legal actions alleging that brand owners' recyclability claim are violating California law. Lexington Law Group filed a case naming TerraCycle, a specialist products recycling company, as well as consumer goods companies CSC Brands. Last month, a settlement was announced.

Lexington Law Group represented Greenpeace as well in a December 2020 litigation against Walmart. That was successful in getting the case thrown away. Greenpeace has now filed an amended complaint.

Lisa K. is a coffee lover, to drink to to write on. She is well inform with coffee trends and news. Lisa K. is also a contributing writer at and

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