We all know the coffee waste drama drill: fewer than one in 400 disposable cups are recycled (according to research by The Times). This is due to the difficulty of prising apart their paper/ plastic mix, meaning that billions end up in landfill globally.
One woman who's made dealing with this problem her mission is Abigail Forsyth. A Melbourne-based entrepreneur, she spearheaded a shift when she launched reusable coffee cup company KeepCup with her brother, six years ago.
Originally a lawyer, she left her firm to set up a chain of cafes in Melbourne (again, with her brother). While running this business, the pair became "increasingly concerned about the volume of packaging waste our business and our customers consumed," she says.
I just read that we use 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups per year in the UK alone. Which creates around 25,000 tons of waste that ends up in landfills and the oceans. There's potentially plans to introduce a 25p tax on disposable cups to discourage usage, similar to the tax on using plastic bags here. So instead of getting mugged off paying for a throw away cup every time you buy a drink, and letting it be thrown into another landfill somewhere, look into some re-useable cups that you will only have to pay once for and won't damage the environment. Economic and ecological sense...win win 🌎♻️💸. I got given an @keepcup as a gift and it stays in my backpack and comes on trips around the city with me, I've named him Bert and I think he quite likes it. If you want to check out some tips on how to live a zero-waste (or as close to as manageable) lifestyle check out @gretazart blog post "beginners guide to zero waste" on the following link... http://seashellsandbarefootjourneys.com/2017/09/25/beginners-guide-going-zero-waste/ You can also check the article I was reading on this link.. https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/coffee-cup-charge-plastic-bag-fee-to-cut-use-disposable-cardiff-university-study-recycling-a7657401.html%3Famp
"We wanted to start serving coffee from reusable cups, but the options weren't there," says Abigail.
Ceramic cups are clunky and make getting the volume of coffee and milk right. Thermoses are clumsy and, as the espresso shot needs pouring directly into the flask, causes the cup's coveted crema to disappear. So, the siblings decided to make their own cup, which would be easy to use for the person making it, and also deals with the wider problem.
After a leaky prototype, a working version was produced and quickly caught on in Australia's big cities. Following a promising take off with the antipodeans, there are now warehouses making the cups in LA and the UK.
"They're lightweight, stackable and carry the same volume as a disposable cup," Abigail says of the reasons for their popularity. "The culture in Melbourne lends itself well to them – it's an 80:20 independent to chain ratio for coffee shops and not that much food is pre-packaged."
While here in the UK it's a different story – we have 20:80 indies to chains – Abigail reckons that the plastic bag charge acted as a wake-up call for people in this country. "People know about the environmental impact now," she says.
For her, the shift in our attitude to eating well and staying healthy has also changed things.
"The more that people realise that it's an issue for us to be so busy that we need to grab pre-packaged food to eat in the car and that we need to look after our health by cooking at home, the less waste we create," she says. Choosing a reusable cup ties into the move to living a little slower and leaving throwaway culture behind.
Soy flat white (going for something different this morning) in my new @keepcup thanks to @hetu_uk for the lovely birthday present. I have been wanting to get a smaller one for sometime but not really knowing whether I needed it - having already used it it's safe to say this is not something that will sit on my shelf and go to waste 🌱✌🏻️💚🙌🏻🌱
As to what Abigail would say to encourage more people to go disposable cup-free?
"One million disposable cups go to landfill every second. When we look at the waste crisis and the bleak potential future we have as a world – is this what you want your grandchild to inherit?"
Can't argue with that.