We have been using Vegware cups for our takeaway hot drinks for a few years now. As single use cups go, they are undoubtedly as good as what is available. Plant based and able to be broken down to fully compost, they are much better than the standard disposable cups, which due to their lining are unable to be recycled in any meaningful way and end up in landfill.
But, here's the thing. The compostable cups that are available on the market are only able to be broken down if put into the commercial food waste stream. And, if you do the simple maths on this (will members of the public who have take away drinks have access to commercial food waste bins?) it's clear that they aren't being used in the manner that would be most effective.
Solutions on this front regarding compostable cups would be to have more effective waste streams for use by the public. Instead of having just a general waste and a recycling bin, adding on a food bin where compostables could be placed would be a big step in the right direction. This is normally an initiative that would be led by local councils but may well need to be spearheaded by businesses to get the concept tested before others take it up.
However is the implementation of an infrastructure to support a single use culture the right way forward? And the conclusion that we have come to is that it clearly is not.
The growth of the reusable cup culture has been a sight to behold. Gone are the days when perversely it was fashionable to carry 0.5 litre plastic bottles of water along with single use coffee cups. If anything, they are being scorned upon. And quite rightly so.
With the number of manufacturers and hence options in the the reusable cup field increasing every day, there is the right cup out there for everyone.
What are we doing?
We have had an initiative running for most of 2018 where if you use your own cup for a take away drink, we have been taking approximately 1/3 off the cost of the drink (£3 becoming £2). As well as selling a variety of cups at each of our teahouses our role is to incentivise our customers to make that change and to switch over to reusable rather than single use.
We can do more, undoubtedly. Boston Tea Party must be applauded for their approach on this matter.
What can you do?
Carry your keep cup with you at all times, in your bag, in your office. Make it part of your routine, give it a rinse when you get a chance (a clean cup is nicer in your bag vs a used cup). Encourage your friends to do the same.
Recycling is better than landfill.
Compostable can be useful in certain scenarios when there is the waste stream structure in place.
Reusing is the best. Drink, Wash, Reuse.