The humble coffee pod is quickly becoming one of the world’s great environmental scourges, and now one of its original inventors says he wishes he’d never created it.
Coffee pods, made from plastic and foil, do not degrade and cannot be recycled, clogging landfill sites instead.
In a candid interview with The Atlantic, American K-Cup inventor John Sylvan said he now refuses to use the cups himself.
“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Mr Sylvan said.
“Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.
“It’s like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”
Reflecting on the environmental impact of the millions of pods being tossed into landfill each year, Mr Sylvan said he regretted his invention.
“No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” he said.
“The plastic is a specialised plastic made of four different layers.”
“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.”
The coffee pod industry is today worth billions of dollars, with Americans purchasing 9 million K-Cups last year alone.
A 2013 study by consumer group CHOICE found coffee giant Nespresso had sold 28 billion capsules worldwide, which equates to 28 million kilograms of aluminium.
K-Cup parent companty Keurig Green Mountain sustainability officer Monique Oxender said the industry had a long way to go.
“I gotta be honest with you… we’re not happy with where we are either,” Ms Oxender told The Atlantic.
“We have to get a solution, and we have to get it in place quickly.”
A market for recyclable coffee pods is emerging, with brands like the Ethical Coffee Company patenting vegetable-based biodegradable capsules which can be thrown straight in the compost.
A satirical video called “Kill the K-Cup” was posted to YouTube in January, and aimed to show the impact of the world’s obsession with the capsules.
The hashtag #KillTheKCup began trending on social media, and a Change.org petition to make coffee pods recyclable was created.