Maybe you've seen people talking about something called "Juicero" on your Twitter feed today?
Maybe you've wondered, what is Juicero?
The Juicero is a wifi-connected juicing machine that crushes pre-made packs of fruits and vegetables to make juice with just the push of a button. The creators of Juicero say it provides a way to give five cups of additive-free fruits and vegetables a day, without the hassle of other juicers on the market.
It became legendary in Silicon Valley for the $120 million it attracted in funding — and drew even more mockery when Bloomberg published a story detailing how the packs could be crushed by hand, bypassing the need for the $400 Juicero machine.
Investors were drawn to the Juicero thinking they were investing in "the Keurig of juice," referring to the ubiquitous pod-based coffee machine now found in as many as one-third of homes.
Of course, you can't squeeze a K-cup in your hand to make a cup of coffee the way you can apparently squeeze a Juicero pack to make juice. But the two machines do share one common aspect: waste.
The waste generated by K-cups is legendary.
The Keurig was invented in 1997, but the cups weren't fully recyclable until 2016. This means that virtually all of the cups sold until that point in 2015 wound up in landfills — a number pegged at nine billion by the Atlantic. K-cup trash buried in 2014 alone could circle the Earth 11 times, according to Grist.
Even the newly recyclable K-cups aren't compostable, still need to have their aluminum lids completely peeled off, and depend on recycling centers being able to sell them for money.
Juicero attempted to differentiate itself from Keurig in terms of waste by quickly making their juice packs recyclable. But like Keurig's new pods, recycling Juicero packs is a complex process, which can't be accomplished simply by tossing the used pack in a home recycling bin (Juicero didn't respond to a request for comment from ATTN:).
Through a partnership with recycling company Terracylce, Juicero promises "a shipping system where each component is recyclable, reusable, or compostable." However, the company warns that "the only element not recyclable by municipal methods are the Packs themselves."
According to the company's website, if you want to go through the process to break down the packs, they first "must be clean and dry, with the pulp removed from inside." Then they either have to be shipped back to Juicero, or brought to "any recycling drop-off that accepts plastic bags."
There's no indication of how many Juicero users go through the steps needed to recycle the packs. But even if most do, that's just one of the waste issues associated with the machine. The packs can't be bought in stores, and have to be delivered, creating countless car trips. And unlike how reusable Keurig pods can be filled with ground coffee, the Juicero can only use proprietary Juicero packs.
At this point, Juicero waste is nowhere near the problem of Keurig waste. But the product, which was recently only available in three states, just expanded into 14 more states west of the Mississippi River. And it has celebrity fans like Amber Rose who tout the benefits of speedy, internet-enabled juicing.
If that expansion continues, so will the proliferation of Juicero waste — even if the machine itself isn't necessary.