Keurig Green Mountain has tentatively reached a settlement for a class-action lawsuit regarding the company’s recyclability claims.
The case was first filed in November 2018 by California law firm Lexington Law Group, with allegations that the US company is deceiving customers with claims of its polypropylene K-Cups being recyclable. According to a consumer who sued the company, Kathleen Smith, Keurig instructed consumers to dispose of the metal lid and coffee grounds before recycling the cup and filter, but urged consumers to “check locally to recycle empty cup”.
In the lawsuit, it also stated that these cups are overlooked at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) due to its small size, and when not disposed of by the MRFs, the cups can contaminate other recyclables. On top of that, when these cups are sorted and sold to plastic reclaimers, they may still be difficult to recycle due to the residual metal and food contaminants.
In court, the company argued that polypropylene pods are different from the original pods Keurig manufactures and that its marketing language used complies with the FTC’s Green Guides because not all communities can recycle the pods. However, the judge disagreed and Keurig’s motion to dismiss the case was denied in June 2019 by Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr.
However, in late October this year, the two parties submitted a notice to notify the judge that both parties have reached an agreement following negotiations. In the notice, there was also a request for Judge Gilliam to delay the case so as to allow the parties to convert the agreement into a legal settlement document. Judge Gilliam approved the request, and the parties have until February 22, 2022 to submit a motion for preliminary approval.
While the details of the agreement weren’t disclosed, the original complaint by Smith included a request for Keurig to stop making claims that its pods are recyclable. On top of that, she asked the judge to order the company to pay restitution to all class members, damages and punitive damages, as well as conduct a “corrective advertising and information campaign”.