Coffee cups and food packaging – can you reduce plastic waste and avoid the latte levy?

This is all over the news at present and quite right too – the vast quantities of non-biodegradeable plastic being dumped into landfill and our oceans is horrifying and has to stop.

And with the proposed imposition of a ‘latte levy’ on coffee cups, coffee retailers are understandably looking for ways to avoid having to charge their customers more and/or lose margin.

At the moment everyone is casting around for a solution and there is a distinct lack of ‘joined up thinking’.

Our customers want to know that we are actively working on all their environmental concerns and, at the moment, this issue is top of the list. We can’t solve these problems alone but we have a duty to study, to understand and to come up with suggestions for the best way forward. And that’s what we’ve done.

We have teamed up with VEGWARE who are the only providers of fully compostable food packaging materials – and importantly, that includes coffee cups. The clever folk at VEGWARE have created a range of all the food packaging you’ll ever need, made entirely from plants – so no plastic.

Compostable mind, not just recyclable – so these products can be disposed of with food waste and that means they return to the earth in just 12 weeks. One of the major problems with recycling is that recyclable packaging cannot be recycled if it’s contaminated with food waste – and this means in effect it hardly ever is (recycled). Compostable packaging, on the other hand can, and should be, disposed of with food waste, so contamination is not an issue.

So, is switching to Vegware helpful to the environment? Yes.

Is this all we need to do? NO!

The very nature of take-away packaging means that the consumer becomes responsible for disposing of the packaging correctly and we know that won’t always happen. But in ‘closed environments’, like theatres, cinemas, sports venues (where the drink or food is consumed in-house), the opportunities for disposing of the packaging waste responsibly are much improved.

But even then, there is still a need to ‘close the loop’ – after all, compostable packaging’s benefits are much diminished if the facilities to compost food waste (and the packaging, cups etc along with it) are not there. Vegware are trying to do exactly what is needed with their Close the Loop composting collection service but this is in its infancy and it will, they concede, be some time before it is available nationwide – still, moving in the right direction!

And at the moment, where everyone wants the situation to improve but we don’t have international or even national strategy to bring all the strands together, we can only do the best we can. Vegware has environmental benefits right here and now – and can and must be part of the long-term solution to the unacceptable damage we are doing to our planet.

If you would like to discuss the issue more and get further information (or even tell us you disagree!) please get in touch, by any or all of the methods below (Facebook, twitter etc!).

We look forward to hearing from you and helping to be part of the solution.