The ecological tragedy of coffee cups

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While thinking of ecology and coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is the coffee production in Latin American farms. Yet, there is a more straightforward approach to this question. Rather than looking at the content, we should focus on the cup itself. 99.75% of the coffee cups purchased at the Starbucks, Dunkin or even in a street shop are not recycled. It is the combination of plastic and paper in their lining that constitutes a still unsolved challenged for the recycling industry.

Recycling centers opened their doors and have the technological capacity to recycle cups but transportation costs from a been to a center are so high that it remains cheaper for coffee players to produce new cups rather than recycle old ones.

More than 3 billions cups are thrown away every year and while this number is still increasing, the major players in the industry still fail to propose viable solutions. Starbucks, Pret a Manger or Costa have launched reusable plastic cups. However, such cumbersome objects failed to significantly penetrate a market where time and convenience are the main drivers. Less than 2% of hot drinks are served in such cups.

In a time where environmental issues became a global challenge, everyone should adopt simple daily habits to prevent wastage and pollution. The invention of an eco-friendly way of drinking your morning coffee thus appears as the next big challenge for anyone seeking to reconcile coffee lovers and ecology.

Thibault Genouville

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