While K-Cups do have a portion of their material being recyclable, it is the size of this portion which is the issue. Only about 5 percent of a K-Cup is made up of recyclable plastic. The other 95 percent are composed of a number seven composite plastic, which is unable to be recycled in the vast majority of places.
The issues do not stop there. The 5 percent of recyclable plastic is not easily accessible in the standard packaging. The K-Cup is constructed in a way that a filter, grounds, and plastic foil sit on top of recyclable plastic. This means that gaining access to that percentage of recyclable plastic is incredibly hard, since the materials are not very easily separated.
With an average of about 10 billion K-Cups being developed every single year, that is a lot of coffee pods that are ending up in landfills. This would not be such a big issue if K-Cups did not take so long to break down in landfills. Due to their high concentration of non-recyclable plastic, K-Cups can take anywhere from 150 to 500 years to fully break down. Some basic math indicates that in the amount of time that it takes only one batch of K-cups to break down, there would be anywhere from 1.5 to 5 trillion new coffee pods dumped into landfills.