If you use K-Cup pods to make your coffee, you might be due part of a $10 million settlement that parent company Keurig Dr Pepper reached to resolve a class action lawsuit alleging Keurig misrepresents the single-serve containers as widely recyclable.
An estimated 64.6 million coffee pods are used every day, according to Consumer Reports. While K-Cups are technically recyclable, it requires peeling off their foil top, removing the coffee grounds and rinsing out the pod first. Environmental groups say that means, in practical terms, the chances of them being properly recycled are slim.
The class action suit, filed in 2018 in California, further alleges (PDF) that many recycling companies won’t even accept the polypropylene pods because they’re too small and there’s no market for materials made from them. According to the complaint, Keurig fails to “inform the consumer of the extremely limited chance that the products will ultimately be recycled.”
Keurig, which acquired Dr Pepper Snapple Group in 2018, agreed to the $10 million payout in February after the court denied its motion to dismiss the suit. The company 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.
After a fairness hearing last week, the court gave final approval to the settlement. The deadline to file a claim is less than a month away.
Here’s what you need to know about the case, including who is eligible for a refund from Keurig, 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 in the class action suit?
Filed in District Court in Northern California, the suit, Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain, alleges that the company misled customers about how easily its pods can be recycled, with detailed recycling instructions and a large-print tagline reading, “Have your cup and recycle it, too.”
But, the complaint alleges, the cups are not widely recyclable and “usually still end up in landfills.”
Municipal facilities typically reject K-Cups for three reasons:
- The presence of food residue and metal contaminants
- Their small size makes them difficult to process
- The absence of a market to convert the pods to reusable materials
Nonetheless most consumers “believe that if their municipality offers recycling services, then all products marketed as ‘recyclable’ can be recycled,” the complaint reads. 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? How Do I File A Claim?
In January, Keurig settled a similar suit about its recycling with Canada’s Competition Bureau, which enforces fair-business practices in the 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’, Gevalia and Maxwell House — as well as house brands from Amazon, Kroger, Harris Teeter and others.
According to the Keurig website, 100% of K-Cups are recyclable as of 2020. And 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. The deadline to exclude yourself from or object to the settlement was Oct. 24, 2022.