02/18/2015 05:27 EST | Updated 04/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Keurig K-Cup Coffee Pods From Calgary To Help Fuel B.C. Cement Plant

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dstaerk via Getty Images
coffe capsules
A Lafarge cement plant in Kamloops, B.C. has begun using spent Keurig K-Cups as part of a worldwide Lafarge push to move from fossil fuels to alternative fuels.

The single-serving coffee pods are not recyclable because they are made of a mixture of materials — coffee grounds, a paper filter, plastic cup, and foil top— that cannot be efficiently separated.

The idea to use the pods as fuel for the cement plant started with Kamloops Lafarge workers, who drink Keurig beverages at work.

The cement plant's manager, Eric Isenor, noted the used K-cups are "becoming more and more of a component of our waste stream."

The chain Van Houtte, a coffee service delivering supplies to office and retail spaces around Kamloops, brings the spent coffee pods in large bins to the Lafarge plant for processing.

Expanding to Lower Mainland, Alberta

Eighty per cent of Van Houtte's customers participate, using collection bins to dispose of used K-cups at their office locations.

Lafarge is now expanding its collection of used K-cups to include locations in the lower mainland and Alberta.

When it receives the pods, Lafarge uses waste heat from their kiln to dry the spent K-cups, then they are put through a shredder and processed at 2000 C.

Isensor said Lafarge gets complete combustion with this system.

The ash from the K-cups becomes part of the cement, and Isensor says 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 the landfill.

Lafarge is now considering introducing a K-cup combustion system at its plant in Exshaw, Alta.

Keurig reported its solid waste to landfill at .68 tons per million dollars of net sales for the fiscal year 2014, which puts the total waste weight at almost 3 million metric tonnes.


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