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Thom on good cups, bad cups

August 23, 2016

Thom on good cups, bad cups

Coffee! It’s great, isn’t it? Legend has it that the energising properties of coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goatherd who saw how excited his goats got after eating the beans of the coffee plant. These days we don’t need goats to tell us how great coffee is.

New Zealand is amongst the top 20 coffee-consuming countries in the world. But with that essential invigorating drink comes a conundrum. What to do with the disposable cups?

Understandably, there’s a lot of confusion about how we should be getting rid of our coffee cups. The first instinct is to put them in the cardboard recycling. That’s what they’re made of isn’t it? Recycling isn’t a good way to dispose of coffee cups for two reasons - the coffee left over inside, and the plastic lining that keeps them watertight. Both of these things make them unsuitable for recycling. (Although a plastic lid with a recycling number on it, once rinsed, is good to go in the recycling).

What if the cups are ‘biodegradable’? Surely that means we can put them in the compost and let nature do its work? Biodegradable materials are fantastic, but many of them require high temperatures to break down and unless you happen to have a commercial composter in your backyard, that’s probably not achievable for the average coffee lover. However, if your business happens to have a ‘Kai to Compost’ service, your biodegradable cups can go in there.

So what’s the best solution? How can we enjoy our morning, midday, and afternoon coffees without having to think about how much waste we’re creating? We can do it two ways. First, don’t get the disposable cups at all! Buy a KeepCup and never have to worry about waste again. Or… Exert your will as a consumer, and choose to purchase your coffee from businesses that serve it in ‘compostable’ cups. If the cup says ‘compostable’, it’ll break down in your standard compost bin to create fantastic fertilizer. Fertilizer that you can use to grow vegetables. Which you can feed to your goats. Because who wants to share their coffee with goats?





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