John Sylvan is credited with creating the K-Cup coffee pod in the '90s, an object that has made quite the presence within households around the world ever since.
Unfortunately, Sylvan had previously admitted he wasn't necessarily happy about the single-serve brewing pods.
For one, "no matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” Sylvan told The Atlantic in 2015. “The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers. The cups are made from plastic No. 7, a mix that is recyclable in only a handful of cities in Canada."
Sylvan admitted during his interview with The Atlantic that he sometimes feels bad he ever invented it. Not only that, but Sylvan also admitted he himself didn't even own one.
“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” he said.
The initial idea to create the simple, palm-sized product that would effectively turn into one cup of coffee struck Sylvan, who was working at Keurig, in the '90s, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. When creating the product, later criticized for its negative impact on the environment, his intention was to cater to office workers, the outlet reported.
Sylvan wasn't necessarily passionate about coffee, but he was drinking 30 to 40 cups a day, The Atlantic reported. What's more, he knew there was a market for a more customizable coffee option compared to what was available at offices.
Sylvan and his college roommate Peter Dragone named their new company Keurig, which is Dutch for excellence, according to the outlet.
In 2015, he explained the invention is "like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance," according to The Atlantic.
He was right. Sales started to grow exponentially, although Sylvan didn't get a piece of the pie.
In 1997, he sold the product to Keurig Green Mountain for $50,000 deal, according to the Washington Post.
By 2014, Keurig Green Mountain had already earned roughly $4.7 billion in revenue, with most of the profits coming from K-Cups, Business Insider reported in 2015. That's roughly five times what the company brought in roughly five years earlier.
However, amid the great success came one big problem. Critics were calling out the company for not being eco-friendly. Back in 2009, more than 80 percent of the company's sales derived from those tiny K-Cups, which were nonrecyclable, nonbiodegradable, and their brewing systems, the New York Times reported in 2010.
However, when Sylvan sold his shares in the late '90s he told the company to improve the product, The Atlantic reported.
"I told them how to improve it, but they don’t want to listen,” Sylvan said. “There’s a much better way of doing it.”
However, The Atlantic reported that after Green Mountain, known for being eco-friendly, acquired Keurig in 2006, every K-Cup product the company put into the marketplace was recyclable if consumers broke them up into their paper, plastic and metal components first.
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The K-Cups consist of a combination of plastic, aluminum, organic material and a paper filter, Recycle a Cup reported.
While the object isn't recyclable as a whole, each component can be recycled separately and sorted into the correct categories for coffee pod recycling or composting, the outlet reported.
In 2018, Keurig Green Mountain and Dr Pepper Snapple Group merged to create Keurig Dr. Pepper.