Keurig will be brewing up $10 million to settle charges that it misled consumers about recycling the company’s K-Cup single-serve coffee pods.
The little pods are everywhere these days, as consumers have gotten hooked on the ease of use and the satisfactory coffee that comes pouring out of a Keurig device in next to no time.
But like lots of things that are convenient, there’s an environmental cost to be paid. In its packaging and advertising, a class action lawsuit argued that Keurig didn’t tell consumers that the pods can’t be recycled everywhere.
As a consequence, they often wind up where they shouldn’t – like, for example, the ocean.
Ocean Conservancy will receive 75% of any settlement payments that go unclaimed by consumers, and Consumer Reports will receive 25% of the remainder.
“There is a clear correlation between the Ocean Conservancy’s purpose and the facts that give rise to the urgent action, as this case concerns plastic pollution in part due to the labeling of plastic products as recyclable but are not actually recycled,” the plaintiffs argued.
A federal judge in California must still approve the proposed settlement.
Changes in store
Keurig has agreed to change its packaging labels to let consumers know that the pods may not be recyclable in their region. It has also agreed to publish that notice in a noticeable larger font size than is currently in use and to put a notice on its website.
According to the motion, Keurig has previously taken steps to make its coffee pods more recyclable by changing their caps to make them easier to peel off.
Previously, according to the 2018 class action lawsuit, Keurig’s K-Cup coffee pods were too small to be recycled in most municipal recycling operations, resulting in them frequently ending up in landfills.
When Keurig tried to have the complaint dismissed, it was unsuccessful. Keurig claimed that a reasonable customer would not have been misled and would have understood that K-Cup pods could not be recycled everywhere
Howard Hirsch, Ryan Berghoff, and Gideon Kracov of Lexington Law Group and the Law Offices of Gideon Kracov are the plaintiff’s attorneys.