What is More Valuable - Material or People's Time?

TerraCycle Tom-Blog
So many coffee lovers have switched to single portion delivery devices produced by a variety of brands, including Tassimo, Flavia and Green Mountain. The coffee tastes is always fresh, perfectly brewed and one doesn’t waste extra coffee left from brewing a full pot. However, the packaging isn't made to be recyclable, so if it is to be diverted from landfills, it needs to go through a time consuming process of disassembly. This begs a serious environmental question. The single dose cartridge is a composite of aluminum, plastic and coffee. It used cartridge is currently not recyclable and is what Bill McDonough would call a "monstrous hybrid" since all three parts on their own are either compostable or recyclable, but together they make a unit that isn't readily recyclable and thus is headed to the landfill. (The same is true for a wide range of common products too long to list here). The solution to waste streams like this is to collect them and “dissemble.” The separation of the three basic materials is hard to automate and likely must be done by hand, at which point, the coffee can be easily be composted and the plastic and aluminum recycled.