The Café Fill Deluxe is a type of coffee filter that can be placed into a Keurig brewer instead of a typical K-Cup. The Café Fill Deluxe is reusable, and can be refilled with new coffee grounds for every cup of coffee. The biggest sustainability advantage of using this filter cup is reducing the amount of waste from disposable cups, which quickly add up in landfills. But besides reusability, there seem to be few sustainable or ethical supply chain practices regarding the Café Fill Deluxe. Over-performing in one category is not enough to entirely offset the detriments of the others.
The filter cup is made of BPA-free plastic and stainless-steel foil which can last for years. The cup appears to come in recyclable packaging made of mostly cardboard with some plastic. The filter cup’s sustainability can best be understood by contrasting it with the more ubiquitous and environmentally-damaging disposable K-cups. The amount of K-cups in landfills could wrap around the Earth ten times, and about 25% of Americans own a single-cup brewing machine like a Keurig. Solutions like cups made with a recyclable plastic or incinerating cups seem inadequate to the impact of a reusable cup, which could likely prevent the use of hundreds of disposable cups. Still, Perfect Pod’s reusable cups will likely end up in landfills at some point. Perfect Pod does not disclose how it sources its materials or their environmental impact upon disposal, instead relying on contrasting its product with disposable K-cups to prove the sustainable merit of the reusable filter cup.
Perfect Pod does not explicitly state how its products are made on its website or how they are transported and shipped to consumers. Perfect Pod seems to make most of its products in factories based in China and owned by Yongtai Paper & Plastic Packaging Industry Co., which is also not forthcoming about production practices. It is probably safe to assume that production and transportation of reusable filter cups are largely dependent on fossil fuels. One aspect of filter cup production that may be important from an environmental perspective is cup-machine compatibility. Perfect Pod lists over 20 different brewing machine types and models for easier access of information. However, the Café Fill Deluxe filter cup is not compatible with every machine, meaning that a customer must properly evaluate the compatibility information on the website or risk buying cups that don’t work. Additionally, if a consumer buys a new brewing machine, they might also have to buy additional cups if the first ones they bought don’t fit inside of the new machine. While this issue is not entirely Perfect Pod’s fault, it could likely make a greater effort in product design to ensure maximum compatibility of its filter cups with a wider range of brewing machines. Coffee strength and ease of cleaning are other concerns about reusable filter cups from consumers that Perfect Pod seems to be addressing, even if these problems are not entirely solved.
ARM Enterprises Inc., also known as Perfect Pod, is a private company based in La Mirada, California. The company website provides no information about labor standards or working conditions regarding the corporate office or product supply chain. The Yongtai Paper & Plastic Packaging Industry Co. also does not disclose any information about labor practices or what it’s like to work in its manufacturing plants. Given the lack of information, there are no sustainable or ethical labor practices to indicate. However, knowing the exact producer in China that makes the physical filter cup product is a small step above many other products.