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The Coffee Cup Crisis

June 05, 2019

The Coffee Cup Crisis

Wellington City Council has advised us that they plan to stop accepting compostable cups at Capital Compost.


Before you jump to conclusions, you should know that this is not their fault.



In our view the decision comes as a result of three things:
  1. Excessive contamination (non-compostable cups being put in compost bins) and not having the infrastructure to sort through it all (and no, more infrastructure will not solve the problem).
  2. Compostable cups not actually being that great for compost (no nutritional value)
  3. Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) - a cornstarch-based material used to line the inside of the cup (which is difficult to break down in big batches). 
Here is what Wellington City Council thinks about the matter:

"While takeaway cups are convenient, including them in our compost prevents us from achieving Biogro certification and diminishes the value of the product we are trying to make. There are already some good alternatives to single-use cups, some of which WCC support via funding from our Waste Minimisation seed funding (e.g. Again Again). Like the phasing out of single-use plastic bags, this will take some time getting used to but will be worth the effort in the end".

Next up, a test.

One of these coffee cups is compostable, one is ‘biodegradable’ (which is a fancy word for it may break down eventually), and one is neither and just goes straight to landfill. 

Can you tell which one is which?


Don't worry. Neither can we.

It's not all doom and gloom though.  Here are five ways you can support a more sustainable coffee culture.

  1. Get your self a swanky as Keep Cup. 
  2. Connect up with Again Again or Gobelet and be a part of cup lending system.
  3. If you forget your Keep Cup, just sit down and enjoy your coffee. 
  4. Only go to cafes that buy Fairtrade (Fair trade advocates for higher prices for farmers as well as better social and environmental standards).
  5. If you can't do any of the above, just wait until you can. You may think you won't survive, but you will. 

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