Enactus 2021 Summer Blog

Check out our summer blog!
Why we must end single-use coffee cup culture for good.
We all love coffee, well many of us do. However, have you ever considered some of the statistics behind the UK’s craving for coffee? In an Environmental Audit Committee parliamentary report into disposable packaging and coffee cups published in January 2018, it summarised that 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK. Of these, less than one in 400 are recycled – that is around 0.25% of all coffee cups produced. Every day, 500, 000 cups are littered. And those of us that do have the good intention of recycling will be deeply disappointed about the reality of doing so. Disposable coffee cups are made from paper and lined with plastic, and although this makes them waterproof, the plastic cannot be removed by most recycling facilities. Once used, the paper part of the cup is usually contaminated by the cup’s contents are there is currently not a UK or European market geared up for recycling contaminated paper food packaging. And then the tiny fraction of cups that can be recycled have to be taken to specialist recycling facilities by lorries, which increases their carbon footprint. I am sure you all get the picture. People across the UK love coffee. However, its current culture is unsustainable. Quite simply, there is a startling void of recycling infrastructure capable of dealing with the current cups produced. And until a fully recyclable cup is conceived, we cannot continue to produce and consume the current volume of cups at the rate we are doing that are significantly endangering terrestrial and aquatic life everywhere on Earth. That’s why the culture needs to change. And there is hope. An alternative is available to stimulate this positive change: re-usable cups and flasks. It is true that they will probably cost you more than the archetypal plastic cup that is so rapidly sold in coffee shops around the country, however you only to have to buy one once. And the long-term environmental positives are immense. In a study conducted by Intertek, a product testing company headquartered in London, it was found that a typical coffee cup requires 0.58 litres of water to produce with a carbon footprint equivalent of up to 60.9 grammes of carbon dioxide. Not only would a re-usable cup or flask alleviate the strain on our precious water reserves in the long-run, it would also reduce the emissions of potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are radically altering and disturbing the Earth’s climate and ecological balance. Many coffee chains also offer incentives to customers bringing in re-usable cups. Of course, it is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately applied the brakes to much of the progress that might have been being made prior in this shift to re-usable cups. With the transmissibility of the virus, it is only natural that being safe has been people’s number one priority. Handing over a re-usable cup to a coffee shop employee suddenly may not have felt as appealing as it once was. Yet, as the cogs of our society slowly begin to grind back into motion, and people are increasingly getting vaccinated against the virus, it is time we return much of our focus to the most pressing environmental challenges of our times. The current UK coffee cup culture is unsustainable. Yet the simple purchase and continued use of a re-usable cup can help stimulate significant environmental positives. Get a re-usable cup and let’s transform the nation’s coffee culture for the better!
Nelson Walker
August 2nd • 3 min read

WE BELIEVE INVESTING IN STUDENTS

WHO TAKE

ENTREPRENEURIAL

ACTION

FOR OTHERS

CREATES A BETTER WORLD FOR

US ALL.

GET IN TOUCH!

Nelson Walker
August 2nd • 3 min read
Why we must end single-use coffee cup culture for good.
We all love coffee, well many of us do. However, have you ever considered some of the statistics behind the UK’s craving for coffee? In an Environmental Audit Committee parliamentary report into disposable packaging and coffee cups published in January 2018, it summarised that 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK. Of these, less than one in 400 are recycled – that is around 0.25% of all coffee cups produced. Every day, 500, 000 cups are littered. And those of us that do have the good intention of recycling will be deeply disappointed about the reality of doing so. Disposable coffee cups are made from paper and lined with plastic, and although this makes them waterproof, the plastic cannot be removed by most recycling facilities. Once used, the paper part of the cup is usually contaminated by the cup’s contents are there is currently not a UK or European market geared up for recycling contaminated paper food packaging. And then the tiny fraction of cups that can be recycled have to be taken to specialist recycling facilities by lorries, which increases their carbon footprint. I am sure you all get the picture. People across the UK love coffee. However, its current culture is unsustainable. Quite simply, there is a startling void of recycling infrastructure capable of dealing with the current cups produced. And until a fully recyclable cup is conceived, we cannot continue to produce and consume the current volume of cups at the rate we are doing that are significantly endangering terrestrial and aquatic life everywhere on Earth. That’s why the culture needs to change. And there is hope. An alternative is available to stimulate this positive change: re-usable cups and flasks. It is true that they will probably cost you more than the archetypal plastic cup that is so rapidly sold in coffee shops around the country, however you only to have to buy one once. And the long-term environmental positives are immense. In a study conducted by Intertek, a product testing company headquartered in London, it was found that a typical coffee cup requires 0.58 litres of water to produce with a carbon footprint equivalent of up to 60.9 grammes of carbon dioxide. Not only would a re-usable cup or flask alleviate the strain on our precious water reserves in the long-run, it would also reduce the emissions of potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are radically altering and disturbing the Earth’s climate and ecological balance. Many coffee chains also offer incentives to customers bringing in re-usable cups. Of course, it is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately applied the brakes to much of the progress that might have been being made prior in this shift to re-usable cups. With the transmissibility of the virus, it is only natural that being safe has been people’s number one priority. Handing over a re-usable cup to a coffee shop employee suddenly may not have felt as appealing as it once was. Yet, as the cogs of our society slowly begin to grind back into motion, and people are increasingly getting vaccinated against the virus, it is time we return much of our focus to the most pressing environmental challenges of our times. The current UK coffee cup culture is unsustainable. Yet the simple purchase and continued use of a re- usable cup can help stimulate significant environmental positives. Get a re-usable cup and let’s transform the nation’s coffee culture for the better!
Check out our summer blog

Enactus 2021 Summer Blog