Is the plastic used in Keurig K-Cups safe?
I love the convenience of using my K-Cup brewer, but have some concerns about the plastic in the K-Cups. When the hot water goes through the K-Cup during the brewing process, are any chemicals leached out into the cup of coffee?
I’m particularly concerned about BPA.
You are one of several people who have expressed concern about BPA in the plastic used in K-Cups.
The short answer is no, there is no BPA in K-Cups. No worries on that score.
To get a more complete answer, I spoke with the folks at Green Mountain Coffee and they provided me with the text of their own FAQ on this and related topics. I hope you find it useful, and reassuring.
Here is what they sent me:
First a quick review:
1) The K-Cup package is made up of three main elements -- the cup itself, a layer of filter paper and an aluminum foil top.
2) The cups themselves aren’t recyclable, yet, but they’re working on it.
3) Technically speaking, the plastic in the cups is #7 – meaning it’s a mix of plastics (as opposed to just one kind of plastic). This is what makes it a problem for recycling. It’s also what makes it bullet proof in terms of protecting and preserving the coffee inside.
4) The K-Cups are nitrogen-flushed, sealed for freshness, and impermeable to oxygen, moisture and light.
Here are some of the questions that come to the Call Center and to the Coffee Department:
Question: “I was wondering if the k pods or the water heating chamber are made of a plastic which can leach BPA (Bisphenol A)? I don’t see a recycle number on them and was curious about this.”
Answer: “We do use a variety of plastics in our Brewers and some contain BPA. However, as you may be aware, the FDA recently reviewed its safety standards associated with BPA and has, again, affirmatively stated that products containing BPA currently on the market are safe. For more information on this recent FDA pronouncement, you may want to check out the following link: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/bpa.html
(BPA is the acronym for Bispenol A – a common ingredient in many plastics used to handle food and water. It gets in the news every now and then because of fears it might be unsafe, contrary to the FDA’s findings.)
Question: “Do the packaging materials used in K-Cups have any BPA in it?”
Answer: “No – the K-Cup packaging contains no BPA.”
Question: “Does the Cold Water Reservoir in a Keurig Brewer contain any BPA?”
Answer: The Cold Water Reservoirs in Keurig brewers do not contain BPA.
Question: “Besides the Cold Water Reservoir, are there any parts in a Keurig Brewer which contact the beverage that contain BPA?”
Answer: We use a variety of plastics in our Brewers and some of the parts that contact the beverage do contain BPA. However, as you may be aware, the FDA recently reviewed its safety standards associated with BPA and has, again, affirmatively stated that products containing BPA currently on the market are safe. For more information on this recent FDA pronouncement, you may want to check out the following link: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/bpa.html. In addition we regularly review the components used in our products to ensure that they are safe in every way, as well as meet or exceed applicable FDA standards.
Question: “We have started using your coffees in the little plastic cups for a special machine that someone ordered for our office. We compost 80% of our trash and cannot figure out what to do with the little cups after that are used? Is the plastic bio-degradable or compostable? If not, what is it - I can't recycle because it has no markings on the bottom identifying what it is. Also, if the foil lids had a small tab we could peel it off and dump the used grounds into our compostable containers. We have over 30 employees and this system seems to be not very environmentally friendly. As we are working towards zero waste, the little cups don't fit in with current trends.”
Answer: the K cups are a mix of plastic, with a foil top and are neither recyclable nor compostable (unless you took the 9-11 grams out of every k cup and put it in the compost pile). According to SPI Guidelines, the plastic would be labeled a “7” – which is a catch-all category for newer plastics and combinations of plastics.