Those little K-Cups for your coffeemaker are ubiquitous in homes and offices across the country. But there’s ongoing criticism over the single-serve coffee pods’ impact on the environment. While K-Cups are theoretically recyclable, it requires effort — and many recycling centers won’t even accept them.
In practical terms, environmental groups claim, the chances of a K-Cup actually being properly recycled are slim. When you consider an estimated 64.6 million coffee pods are used every day, that’s a major issue.
Keurig Dr Pepper reached a $10 million settlement this year to resolve allegations it misrepresents how recyclable its K-Cups are. If you’ve used the pods to make your coffee, you might be due part of that payout. But the deadline to claim money is just weeks away.
Here’s what you need to know about the Keurig K-Cup case, including who is eligible for money, how much you could get and how to submit a claim.
For more class action lawsuits, find out if you’re eligible for money from T-Mobile’s $350 million data breach payout or DirecTV’s $17 million robocall settlement.
What is Keurig accused of?
According to a suit filed in District Court in Northern California in 2018, Keurig misled customers about how easily its pods can be recycled. The packaging included detailed recycling instructions and a large-print tagline reading, “Have your cup and recycle it, too.”
In reality, the cups are not widely recyclable and “usually still end up in landfills,” the complaint alleged.
Many recycling companies won’t even accept the polypropylene pods, it claims, because they’re too small and there’s no market for materials made from them. In addition, the presence of ground coffee residue and metal contaminants often makes them unsuitable for recycling.
Nonetheless most consumers “believe that if their municipality offers recycling services, then all products marketed as ‘recyclable’ can be recycled,” the complaint read. And most people will put their pods in the recycling bin “under the false impression that the products can be recycled.”
Read more: What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Keurig fails to “inform the consumer of the extremely limited chance that the products will ultimately be recycled,” according to the complaint.
The corporation, which acquired Dr Pepper Snapple Group in 2018, agreed to the $10 million payout in February. It also agreed to add larger-print language to its packages indicating K-Cups are “not recycled in many communities.”
Keurig didn’t respond to a request for comment but, in filings, has denied any wrongdoing.
In January, the company settled a similar suit about its recycling with Canada’s Competition Bureau, which enforces fair-business practices in that country. The manufacturer agreed to pay $2.2 million and make a roughly $586,000 donation to the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition.
K-Cup technology is licensed to a host of coffee manufacturers — including Starbucks, Peet’s, Dunkin’ and Maxwell House — as well as house brands from Amazon, Kroger and Harris Teeter.
According to the Keurig website, Keurig introduced easy-peel lids on select items in November 2021 to make it easier to dispose of the foil lid before recycling.
Who is eligible to file a claim for money from Keurig?
You can qualify as a class member if you purchased K-Cup single-serving coffee pods labeled as recyclable in the United States for household use between June 8, 2016, and Aug. 8, 2022.
Proof of purchase isn’t necessary, though it will affect how much money you receive: With proof of purchase, you can request a refund of $3.50 per 100 pods purchased, with a minimum payment of $6 and a cap of $36. Without proof of purchase, you can claim up to $5 per household.
How do I file a claim?
You can submit a claim on the settlement website or print out a form, complete it and mail it to:
Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain
c/o Kroll Settlement Administration LLC
P.O. Box 225391
New York, NY 10150-5391
The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 9. 2023.