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Are plastic-free coffee pods the way of the future?

Keurig is beta-testing coffee pods that do away with plastic. But you’ll have to buy a whole new coffee machine to use them.

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Less than 1 minute Minutes

The US single-serve coffee giant Keurig has unveiled a novel form of coffee pod: it calls them K-Rounds. While the new product is not yet on the market, it has been hailed by Tech Radar as a sustainable alternative to traditional capsules.

K-Rounds do away with the plastic and aluminium of the company’s normal coffee pod (called K-Cups). Instead, they resemble pucks and are made of highly-compressed ground coffee held together by ultra-thin layers of plant cellulose and starch.

The idea is to reduce the amount of coffee pod waste accumulated globally each year (this study says it’s not far off 600,000 tonnes).

[See more: You can now get pork-flavoured latte at some Chinese branches of Starbucks]

While K-Cups (and their competitor, Nespresso pods) are technically recyclable, the process is finicky – typically requiring the separation of pod compounds. Recycling facilities also aren’t widely available (they are not in Macao).

The new K-Rounds are designed to be entirely compostable after brewing.

If officially launched after the current phase of beta-testing, K-Rounds will require their own coffee machine – something Keurig has also recently unveiled. It’s called the Alta Brewer and will be able to handle K-Cups, too.

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