This program helps reduce the amount of waste headed to landfills
Editor's Note (May 2023): This story was originally published in November 2022. The response from the community was so positive that by the end of 2022, we collected and recycled 8,000 pods (quadruple our goal)! As a result, our single-use coffee pod recycling program continues as part of Scranton City Pride week, June 2-11, in Scranton. If you would like to donate your used pods, please contact Steve Ward at 570.963.5901 or email@example.com. Thanks to everyone who is helping to reduce waste in our landfills.
Calling all (coffee) pod people!
In honor of America Recycles Day on November 15, Scranton Tomorrow’s Safe, Clean & Green Team is launching a program to recycle single-use coffee pods in partnership with the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County, and NeighborWorks of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Popular among coffee drinkers across the country and around the world, those delicious caffeine-filled capsules are beloved by consumers for their convenience, but they are notoriously difficult to recycle. In some areas, including Lackawanna County, recycling centers don’t even accept them. According to Statista, 40 percent of American consumers owned a single-up coffee brewing system in 2020. That adds up to significant waste in landfills, and it’s an issue that prompted Steve Ward, Downtown Safe, Clean & Green Ambassador Team Leader at Scranton Tomorrow, to take action.
Ward’s initial concept focused on the Downtown Business District as he is always exploring ways to make it easier for residents and professionals to recycle. "Many people don’t realize that coffee pods aren’t being recycled,” Ward said. That’s because there’s a bit of a catch when it comes to being eco-friendly in this case. Many pods are technically recyclable, but only after they are deconstructed.
“There’s a foil lid, the filter where the grounds are, and the plastic part. All those pieces need to be pulled apart in order to recycle them. The process is so labor intensive that even if you put it in the recycling bin and it makes its way to the recycling center, it just gets thrown out.” - Steve Ward, Downtown Safe, Clean & Green Team Leader, Scranton Tomorrow
How you can participate
To help reduce the amount of pods headed for the landfill this month, Ward developed a pilot program that expands beyond the Downtown with support from community partners. Through the month of November, Lackawanna County coffee drinkers who use single-use coffee pods are encouraged to save used pods instead of throwing them away.
When you have collected a bunch, can contact Ward at 570.963.5901 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements for drop-off. Scranton Tomorrow will send all pods to a specialized recycling facility where components will be separated, the plastic part will be recycled and remanufactured, and the coffee grounds will be composted.
Ward hopes to collect 2,000 pods at Scranton Tomorrow’s office. “This is a way the Downtown community can take a small, but active, role in recycling when they may not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise,” Ward said. If the pilot program is successful, he hopes to extend the program beyond November.
The single-use coffee pod recycling program in Lackawanna County is a project of:
In partnership with: