Ontario Politician Wants Province to Ban Harmful Coffee Pods

Sometimes it takes a while for society to become aware of the harmful side-effects of an indulgence.

It took decades, for example, before we started to understand how terrible smoking was to our health. Another such example is coffee pods.

It seems like you can’t enter a room without a coffee pod machine these days – a trend that’s taking a toll on our environment. It’s estimated that around 1.5 billion coffee pods are consumed by Canadians every year, the majority of which end up in landfills.

It was never supposed to be this way. John Sylvan, who invented Keurig’s K-Cup coffee pods two decades ago, said in 2015 that they were never intended for mainstream adoption.

“They’re going to make those little plastic cups forever,” he said of the pods in criticizing the pods’ environmental impact. “You can stick your head in the sand and ignore it, or you can address it from an engineering standpoint.”

The alternative? Recyclable coffee pods, which many companies in Canada are making an effort to produce. Toronto-based Club Coffee, for example, manufactures 100% compostable single-serve pods, which are primarily comprised of natural materials and biodegrade in just over a month.

One Ontario politician, Progressive Conservative MPP Norm Miller of Parry Sound-Muskoka, wants the province to enact legislation that would make environmentally-friendly coffee pods mandatory. Miller recently presented a private members’ bill at Queens’ Park and asked all parties to support a law that would ban non-compostable single-use coffee pods. Pods would have to be compostable within four years for them to be legally brew-able in Ontario.

Miller’s bill mentions a warning from the province’s environmental commissioner about the pods and dismisses any notions that switching to a greener alternative would be bad business.

The move is not without precedent. In March of 2016, the German city of Hamburg became the first in the world to ban single-use coffee pods over environmental concerns. If Miller’s recommendation is signed into law, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in North America to enact such a measure.

Now, if only we could do something about those plastic beads in our cosmetics…