We’ve written about the problems with single-use coffee pods before — a majority of these little capsules end up in landfills and contribute to the world’s growing plastic pollution issues. There are plenty of alternatives, from biodegradable and compostable pods to refillable pods, but for coffee lovers reluctant to switch to sustainable alternatives, there’s the Cup Hero. Inventor Connor Feeney got the idea while watching his family make their morning cups of coffee using popular disposable coffee pods, and upon taking one apart discovered that the components were all either recyclable or compostable.

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A green cone-like device laying in the sand in front of a patch of plants.

At the same time, the process of separating the plastic, foil, and organic materials by hand was too difficult and messy to do on a regular basis. Armed with a masters degree in engineering from Northwestern University, Feeney designed the Cup Hero himself, later performing the marketing, intellectual property, distribution, and finance, as well. 

Related: Xoma Superfoods delivers coffee options in single-serve, plant-based pods

A green cone-like device in front of a tower of coffee pods.

The Cup Hero uses one simple tool to separate the plastic cup, aluminum foil lid, paper filter, coffee grounds, and internal plastic ring in under 10 seconds. Simply insert the tool to the top of the pod, twist, and detach the different parts. That way, every component of the single-use pod can be sorted, processed and recycled (the plastic and aluminum going into the recycle, and the coffee ground and paper filter into the compost).

A green cone-like device next to a deconstructed coffee pod.

According to the company, its primary objectives are “to reduce the amount of single-use, disposable plastic that enters our landfills, empower individuals to adopt sustainable practices, and spotlight a significant environmental issue that millions of people contribute to each day – often without realizing the larger impact.” The Cup Hero will be available through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the fall.

+ The Cup Hero

Images courtesy of Connor Feeney