You may have heard about how Keurig has come under scrutiny for the k-cup it produces.
These seemingly harmless little pods are made with many different varieties of plastics, which is proving to be a major health risk.
In fact, they’re virtually impossible to recycle, which has lead to a massive environmental problem.
“No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” says John Sylvan, the inventor of the k-cup. “The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers.”
The cups are made from plastic #7, a mix that is recyclable in only a handful of cities. Most recycling plants aren’t equipped to handle #7 plastic. via TakePart
Unfortunately, the criticism for these cups doesn’t end there. Although the brand advertises that the k-cups are BPA-free, this doesn’t mean that they are safe.
What Is BPA?
According to the Environmental Working Group, BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the endocrine system, even in small amounts.
It has been linked to a wide variety of problems, including:
- Breast and reproductive system cancer
- Early puberty
- Behavioral changes in children
- Resistance to chemotherapy treatments
BPA is found in everything from plastic food and drink containers to the lining of tin cans as well as the coating of 40% of receipt paper used throughout the world. These chemicals can leach into the food and drink products you consume and make their way into your body.
How Safe Are BPA-Free Plastics?
A study conducted by Environmental Health Perspective found that almost all of the 455 commercially available plastics that were tested leached estrogenic chemicals, even in BPA-free products.
Bisphenol S (BPS), had come forward as a BPA alternative, but may be just as harmful.
BPS was a favored replacement because it was thought to be more resistant to leaching. If people consumed less of the chemical, the idea went, it would not cause any or only minimal harm.
Yet BPS is getting out. Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallels BPA. via ScientificAmerican
According to NPR, the new standard for plastics is to be “EA-free,” which means free of not only BPA, short for bisphenol A, but also free of other chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen.
Keurig doesn’t currently disclose what kind of plastic it uses in its k-cups nor its brewing machines. However, the company says that its new k-cup will be made of Tritan and other plastics, which they insist is EA-free.
However, Mariah Blake, who recently published an investigative report on Mother Jones about BPA and other plastics, warns dangerous chemicals in plastic products are a much bigger problem than most people realize.
“There are more than 80,000 chemicals that are used in commerce in the United States,” Blake says.
“And only a very tiny fraction of these have ever been tested for safety.”
According to internal company emails revealed in a court case in Austin, Texas, Eastman’s (a large-scale plastic production company) initial tests found that Tritan was, in fact, estrogenic.
Eastman then ran a second test using computer modeling that predicts, based on the chemical structure, whether a chemical is estrogenic.
“That test,” Blake says, “found that one of the ingredients in Tritan is more estrogenic than BPA.” via PRI
So there you have it! There’s a lot of conflicting information about the safety of the chemicals that make up everyday life.
It’s important to remember that many scientific studies are sponsored by large corporations and receive funding to prove what these companies are advertising.
You can enjoy the health benefits of coffee every day, but be selective in the equipment that you use, and always demand safety first as a consumer. Your body will thank you for that.
If you have a Keurig machine at home and don’t want to see it go to waste, there are reusable filters that you can purchase and fill with the coffee of your choice.