As the debate over what to do about coffee pods continues, a Sudbury-based organization for adults with developmental disabilities says it might have a creative solution to the problem.

The Adult Enrichment Centre is looking to start a coffee pod recycling program to help manage the waste from the single-serve plastic cups, and give their clients meaningful employment.

Joanne Bouchard, the director of the centre, says the program would be a win-win for everyone.

"Every household, every office, every little store. Everybody's drinking KCups," says Bouchard.

Area manager Ashley Roberts says clients could easily separate the pods and then sort the components for recycling or composting.

"There's a tool that you can buy that separates them, because you need to separate the plastic from the filter," she says. "The filter is decomposable and the plastic is recyclable in certain areas."  

Recycling pods isn't an easy task

Joanne Bouchard

Joanne Bouchard says the Adult Enrichment Centre's coffee pod recycling program would be a win-win for everyone. (Supplied)

Bouchard says the program would be a win-win for everyone, but the centre has faced a few setbacks in getting the program off the ground.

Neither Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie, the two cities where the centre is located, accept the plastic cups as recyclable.

Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario, says coffee pods are a challenge to recycle, because the materials used in the pods aren't standardized across the industry.

That makes it difficult to determine when the plastic is recyclable and when it isn't.

"You'd really have to examine pod by pod if in fact the plastic could be recycled," she says.

On top of this, recycling infrastructure differs across communities, and many just don't have the technology or manpower to separate and sort the pods themselves.

'We need the industry to step up'

St. Godard says small, independent recycling programs — like the one the Adult Enrichment Centre is proposing — are a step in the right direction, but change needs to happen on a bigger scale if the problem is to be solved.

"Those programs are really innovative and certainly they should be supported, but I don't know that that's going to be able to keep up with the literally billions of pods that are being sold onto the marketplace everyday," she says.

"We need broader, more reasonable solutions and we need the industry to step up."

In the meantime, Bouchard and Roberts say they have reached out to the provincial government for help, and will continue searching for a way to get the program started.