A Lafarge cement plant in Kamloops, B.C., has begun using spent Keurig K-Cups as part of the company's push to move from fossil fuels to alternative fuels.
The single-serving coffee pods are not recyclable because they are a mixture of materials — coffee grounds, a paper filter, plastic cup, and foil top — that cannot be efficiently separated.
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The idea to use the pods as fuel for the cement plant started with Kamloops Lafarge workers, who drink Keurig beverages at work.
Eric Isenor, the cement plant's manager, noted the used K-Cups are "becoming more and more of a component of our waste stream."
The chain Van Houtte, a coffee service that delivers supplies to offices and retailers around Kamloops, brings the spent coffee pods in large bins to the Lafarge plant for processing.
Expansion in works
Eighty per cent of Van Houtte's customers participate, using collection bins to dispose of used K-cups at their locations.
Lafarge is now expanding its collection of used K-Cups to include locations in B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Alberta.
When it receives the pods, Lafarge uses waste heat from its kiln to dry the spent K-Cups. They are then put through a shredder and processed at 2,000 C.
Isensor said Lafarge gets complete combustion with the system.
The ash from the K-Cups becomes part of the cement, and Isensor said there is no change to the plant's emissions.
The plant burned 32,682 kg (80,000 pounds) of K-Cups last year, which is millions of individual cups diverted from landfill sites.
Lafarge is now considering introducing a K-Cup combustion system at its plant in Exshaw, Alta.
A previous version of this article said spent K-Cups might soon be collected from Calgary for use at the Lafarge cement plant in Kamloops, B.C. In fact, Van Houtte coffee services is working on expanding its collection of K-Cups into Alberta along the border with B.C., but there are no current plans to include Calgary in the expanded collection.Feb 19, 2015 7:47 AM MT