Recycling at Keurig Green Mountain: A Brewing Problem

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 1-430-482

Core Disciplines: Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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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 Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • 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 be leveraged to facilitate internal change.