Keurig Canada to pay $3 million penalty to settle Competition Bureau’s concerns over coffee pod recycling claims

News release

January 6, 2022 – GATINEAU, QC – Competition Bureau

Keurig Canada Inc. reached an agreement with the Competition Bureau to resolve concerns over false or misleading environmental claims made to consumers about the recyclability of its single-use Keurig® K-Cup® pods.

The Bureau’s investigation concluded that Keurig Canada’s claims regarding the recyclability of its single-use coffee pods are false or misleading in areas where they are not accepted for recycling. The Bureau found that, outside the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, K-Cup pods are currently not widely accepted in municipal recycling programs.

The Bureau also concluded that Keurig Canada’s claims about the steps involved to prepare the pods for recycling are false or misleading in certain municipalities. Keurig Canada’s claims give the impression that consumers can prepare the pods for recycling by peeling the lid off and emptying out the coffee grounds, but some local recycling programs require additional steps to recycle the pods. 

Keurig Canada’s recyclable claims are made on its website, via social media and on text and logos on the K-Cup pods and packaging. The settlement also covers recyclability claims made on packages of K-cup pods for brands marketed in partnership with Keurig Canada.

As part of this settlement, Keurig Canada agreed to:

  • pay a $3 million penalty and donate $800,000 to a Canadian charitable organisation focused on environmental causes
  • pay an additional $85,000 for the costs of the Bureau’s investigation
  • change its recyclable claims and the packaging of the K-Cup pods
  • publish corrective notices about the recyclability of its product on its websites, on social media, in national and local news media, in the packaging of all new brewing machines and via email to its subscribers 
  • enhance its corporate compliance program as necessary to promote compliance with the laws and prevent deceptive marketing issues in the future

The Bureau acknowledges Keurig Canada’s voluntary cooperation in resolving this matter.

Quotes

“Portraying products or services as having more environmental benefits than they truly have is an illegal practice in Canada. False or misleading claims by businesses to promote “greener” products harm consumers who are unable to make informed purchasing decisions, as well as competition and businesses who actually offer products with a lower environmental impact.”

-Matthew Boswell
Commissioner of Competition

Quick facts

  • The agreement registered with the Competition Tribunal has the force of a court order and will be binding for a period of 5 years.

  • The deceptive marketing practices provisions of the Competition Act forbid companies from making false or misleading claims about a product or service to promote their business interests.

  • In 2017, the Competition Bureau issued a business alert to warn businesses of issues related to making environmental claims that are misleading or likely to result in misinterpretation.

  • We encourage all Canadians to report suspected deceptive marketing practices by using the Bureau’s online complaint form.

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