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Hefty bill for false claims over coffee pod recycling

Keurig Canada is having to pay out nearly CAN$ 4 million (EUR 2.8 million) after complaints of false or misleading environmental claims about the recyclability of its single-use coffee pods.

An investigation by the Canadian Competition Bureau concluded the company’s claims regarding recyclability were either false or misleading in areas where they are not accepted for recycling. The bureau found that, outside the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, K-Cup pods are currently not widely accepted in municipal recycling programmes.

Keurig Canada’s claims about the steps involved to prepare the pods for recycling were also found to be false or misleading in certain municipalities. They gave the impression that consumers could prepare the pods for recycling by peeling off the lid and emptying out the coffee grounds when some local recycling programmes require additional steps. 

As part of this settlement, Keurig Canada – which also markets the Dr Pepper and Canada Dry drinks brands – agreed to:

  • pay a CAN$ 3 million penalty
  • donate CAN$ 800 000 to a charitable organisation
  • pay CAN$ 85 000 towards the costs of the investigation
  • change its recyclability claims and the packaging of the K-Cup pods

Corrective notices will have to be published on the company websites, on social media, in national and local news media, in the packaging of all new brewing machines and via email to subscribers.

‘Portraying products or services as having more environmental benefits than they truly have is an illegal practice in Canada,’ says commissioner of competition Martin Boswell. ‘False or misleading claims by businesses to promote “greener” products harm consumers who are unable to make informed purchasing decisions, as well as competition and businesses who actually offer products with a lower environmental impact.’

Keurig Canada’s cooperation in resolving the matter is welcomed by the bureau.

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