Recycling at Keurig Green Mountain: A Brewing Problem (pdf abstract available)
Purchase the full report on WDI Publishing (Case study #1-430-482) – published 06/2016, 16 pages

Developed by:

Alex Truelove, Ryan Moya, Daniel Patton, and Devina Trivedi. This case was written under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman, Erb Faculty Member.

Description: Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer for Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, is carefully considering the criticism the company has received regarding its plastic K-Cups that deliver a single serving of coffee to consumers through the Keurig brewing system. Billions of the difficult-to-recycle K-Cup pods are ending up in landfills. Keurig Green Mountain has pledged to produce 100% recyclable K-Cups by 2020, but how will it achieve this goal? Oxender must address the environmental impact and public scrutiny of the company’s signature product. However, she must find a way to overcome the inconsistent and sometimes inadequate recycling infrastructure in Keurig’s markets. Students join Oxender in finding the best, workable solutions.

Teaching Points:
After reading and discussing this case, students should be able to:

  • Explore the role companies can or should play in addressing broader systemic challenges.
  • Analyze how one dark spot in a company’s sustainability profile can overshadow the rest of the positive impact it is having.
  • Identify how firms can manage the struggle of finding a single solution for a heterogeneous marketplace.
  • Find solutions for firms in situations in which gut reaction sustainability options are not feasible.
  • Determine how external pressure can be leveraged to facilitate internal change.