Keurig Canada fined $ 3 million for misleading coffee pod recycling claims

The Competition Bureau says Keurig Canada will pay a $ 3 million penalty for making false or misleading claims that its single-use K-Cup pods can be recycled.

In a statement released Thursday, the bureau said the company had voluntarily entered into a deal that will include the fine, a donation of $ 800,000 to an environmental charity and $ 85,000 in Competition Bureau expenses for the ‘case.

Keurig reportedly reached an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit in the United States over the same issue last month, although the details of that settlement are not yet public.

The company has been investigated by the Competition Bureau for allegations that its single-use plastic drink pods could be recycled if consumers removed the metal cover and emptied out any content like coffee grounds. .

But the office said K-Cups are not widely accepted for recycling in any province except Quebec and British Columbia and that those instructions don’t go far enough for many cities that might accept them. in a recycling program.

Ordered to change packaging, inform subscribers

In addition to financial penalties, Keurig Canada must change its packaging, post notices of the changes on its websites, social media, and local and national media, as well as include the information in the packaging of new machinery. ‘Keurig infusion and email subscribers.

“It is an illegal practice in Canada to portray products or services as having more environmental benefits than they actually have,” Competition Commissioner Matthew Boswell said in a statement.

“False or misleading claims by companies to promote ‘greener’ products hurt consumers who are unable to make informed purchasing decisions, as well as the competition and businesses that actually offer lower priced products. environmental impact. “

K-Cups are not accepted by many recycling programs

Cynthia Shanks, senior director of communications and sustainability at Keurig Canada, said in an emailed statement that three years ago, Keurig changed its capsules to use the type of plastic most commonly accepted by health programs. Canadian recycling.

But she said many still don’t accept K-Cups.

“As we continue to work with municipalities and the recycling industry to increase acceptance of recycling for K-Cup pods, we have evolved our communications with consumers to let them know that pods are recyclable in some communities. and remind them of the proper steps to recycle, ”says Shanks.

“The agreement with the Competition Bureau of Canada will further improve our communications, reminding consumers to check whether K-Cup pods are accepted in their municipal recycling program and, if so, any additional steps that may be required. necessary to prepare the pods for recycling. “

The Competition Act prohibits companies from making false or misleading claims about their products, including environmental claims. Five years ago, the Competition Bureau warned companies that “green laundering” of their products is illegal in Canada.

“The Competition Act targets environmental claims that are vague, non-specific, incomplete or irrelevant and that cannot be supported by verifiable test methods,” the 2017 statement said.