Judging by the epic quantities of Keurig coffee machines present in the stores and on sale just before the holidays, I’m going to roll the dice and postulate that a lot of you got one for Christmas. There is no question that they make fabulously perfect little cups of coffee, and I’m a huge coffee snob. I’m also looking forward to using my new coffee grinder that I got for Christmas to supplement the pricier Keurig java. But one question came up for us that we couldn’t properly answer: how green is my Keurig?
Specifically, how do they shoot hot water through a plastic cup with no harmful leaching from the plastic, including BPA?
The first website that you land on when looking for the answer is this one. It’s helpful, but has opinions from both sides that are anonymous and not scientifically based. Keurig says that their cups do not contain BPA, but they are #7 plastic which is a catch-all for really any kind of plastic. So even if they don’t contain BPA, there could be other harmful chemicals in there. The answer is that nobody knows exactly what kind of chems are produced by the cups.
Since Keurig is owned by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters who specialize in organic and fair trade coffee, chances are good they aren’t lying about the cups not containing BPA. Yeah, that’s a bit of a leap of faith, but you have to think that the parent company employs some people who may be concerned about BPA, and are probably trying to ensure that it isn’t in their K-cups.
In an anonymous comment left on the Coffee Detective site, a chemist states that they tested the BPA levels of the coffee and they found the trace amounts acceptable. The same commenter is supportive of an FDA ban on BPA in food, so their heart was in the right place. But again, anonymous comment.
Keurig itself is looking for a product engineer for the K-cups to make them more sustainable and, while they don’t say it in the posted job description, hopefully recyclable. #7 plastic is generally not accepted in most recycling programs.
However, all of this is speculation until someone does a publicly released scientific study on the composition of a K-cup and the BPA and other chemical levels in Keurig coffee. If there are any trained chemists out there who are willing to do this and write a blog post about it, you’d be doing the green community a huge service. Keurig and Green Mountain can talk up the product all they want, but until it is independently verified we can’t trust it. I’m going to let my supply run out and quietly pack the machine away for occasional use only until I see a proper third-party answer.
If I’m missing one that is already out there, which is definitely possible, kindly leave a link in the comments below.