Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Costa demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 19, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Costa why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25p latte levy, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

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Reusable coffee cups are not the answer

January 16, 2018

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer to the growing waste problem of plastic pollution.

It seems to be that [reusable cups] are the best solution if we can get to that. — Caroline Lucas

In the UK, we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every year.

These coffee cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper lined with plastic and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Contrary to what Caroline Lucas has claimed, reusable coffee cups are not the answer.

I have yet to be in a coffee shop and seen a reusable cup sold, let alone used. When I have inquired, I have been told take up is minimal, even when a substantial discount is on offer.

There is also as James Hoffman has drawn attention to, a hygiene problem if people bring in their own cups to be washed.

Compostable coffee cups of little use, unless a compost heap on which to deposit.

Resusable cups are expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. With the exception of office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office and even then only if coupled with a discount, unlikely to have any impact.

Pret a Manger started the New Year with filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of any in-store information, lack of reusable cups on sale, will make little difference. Little more than a PR stunt.

Why are we not seeing any statistics published? I would expect to see a weekly report, to see what impact, if any, in reducing the use of plastic-lined takeaway cups.

Without seeing any results from Pret a Manger SumofUs have launched a petition asking that Costa follow suit.

This is tinkering at the edges, addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the grab it and go consumerist culture, encouraged by chains like Costa and Pret a Manger, it is what their businesses model is built on.

What we should be doing is encouraging relax with a cup of speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. Only then are we gong to reduce the plastic pollution.

We should also be pushing for the introduction of a 25p latte levy at the next Budget.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

Latte Levy

January 5, 2018

The UK has woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare – and now there’s no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep. — chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall

2.5 billion throwaway takeaway disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

Prior to the Autumn Budget environmentalists proposed a 5p levy on takeaway coffee cups. It would not have made a jot of difference and was wisely rejected.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has proposed what has already been misleadingly dubbed a latte levy, misleading as not a tax on lattes, it is a tax on disposable coffee cups, a levy of 25p on plastic-lined disposable coffee cups.

These cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper with a plastic liner, which means they cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration, or are dumped in the street as litter.

Note: The pedantic may point out there are three plants in the UK that can recycle these plastic-lined cup. They would be correct, but who is going to separate out these cups and send to the the plants? Thus to all practical purposes, they are not recycled.

The Select Committee took evidence. Three chains refused to cooperate, the usual suspects, Pret a Manger, McDonald’s, and tax-dodging Caffe Nero.

Earlier in the week, Pret a Manger launched filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of in-store information and sale of reusable cups in Pret a Manger, has been dismissed as  a PR stunt.

There are available compostable paper cups. But, in the absence of a scheme to compost or a compost heap to drop the cup on, will join the waste stream.

Reusable cups are of limited value. Expensive to buy, often made of plastic, have to be carried around. They only come into their own if used when popping out of the office for a coffee to bring back to the office, and only then if a substantial discount is given for their use.

The chains are already lobbying hard to stop the latte levy, their business model is built on encouraging the grab it and go, takeaway, consumerist culture, which may be why Pret a Manger  launched a preemptive strike earlier in the week.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

As always, it is the indie coffee shops who are leading the way.

What we have to do is discourage the take away culture. Compostable paper cups, reusable cups, is merely tackling the symptoms.

We have to encourage relaxing with a  cup of coffee at a coffee shop in ceramic or glass. There is then no requirement for a  takeaway cup.

Pret a Manger launch organic takeaway filter coffee at 49p a cup

January 2, 2018

I’m delighted you can now get 50p off a hot drink when you bring your reusable cup to Pret. I hope this will make a difference. — Pret a Manger chief executive Clive Schlee

As of today,  organic takeaway filter coffee from Pret a Manger at 49p a cup.

And the catch? Have to bring own cup for a refill.

Strictly speaking not a catch, it is to encourage use of reusable cups and discourage waste, reduce the number of plastic-lined throwaway cups that go to landfill or incineration.

Or is it?

In the absence of in-store information, no reusable cups on sale in store, store lacking the facility to relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup, it will make little difference in the use of throwaway cups and will be seen as a PR stunt nothing more.

Note: Mainstream media carry the same story more or less word for word. That is what counts as journalism these days, cut and paste from a press release.

How long will this scheme last once the PR advantage has been milked? In 2016 tax-dodging Starbucks scrapped its own 50p discount for customers who bring their own cup just three months after it was introduced. It does of course raises the obvious question why would anyone who appreciates coffee wish to drink what is called coffee in Starbucks?

We need transparency, we need to see what the figures were before and after this scheme introduced.

Pret a Manger are not pioneers in this. Many indie coffee shops have been offering a discount if bring back a cup to be filled, the main difference, they have on sale resusable cups.

UK ships 500,000 tonnes of plastic to China every year. This is not recycling, this is dumping. China has said it will no longer take plastic waste from the UK.

The UK throws away 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups every year. The planet is being destroyed by plastic.

One of the first steps we can take is to eliminate the use of throwaway  plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups.

And that is the problem, the cups are lined with plastic, cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration or are thrown in the street.

Compostable paper cups are available. Fine, if on way home, drop off on the compost heap, but what if not, what then to do with the paper cup? It will end up in the waste stream.

Reusable cups, eg KeepCup, have  a role for office workers popping out for a coffee and taking back to the office. Beyond that limited use as bulky, expensive, and a pain to carry around.

This is to address the symptoms. What we have to do is discourage the grab it and go culture, which Pret a Manger encourages, and encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with a  cup of speciality coffee served in a ceramic cup.

Espresso Mushroom Company

December 11, 2017

What to do with the coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds are what you see the barista tapping out after he or she has made your coffee. If you do not see, it is the loud banging you hear.

Coffee grounds can be used for compost or on your garden.

A few coffee shops put the grounds out in a paper carrier for gardeners to take away. More should follow their good example.

The coffee grounds can be used in cakes, instead of ground coffee.

The coffee grounds can be used for making coffee cups, jewellery, even furniture.

Or can be used for growing oyster mushrooms.

Espresso Mushroom Company using a cycle and trailer, collect the grounds from Small Batch. This explains why I have seen mushroom growing kits in Small Batch, supplied for growing oyster mushrooms at home.

The idea for growing mushrooms on coffee grounds came to the two co-founders of Espresso Mushroom Company after attending a talk by Gunter Pauli from ZERI, when he discussed how smallholder coffee growers were growing mushrooms on coffee pulp on their farms.

Each mushroom kit contains coffee from 100 espressos. What is left over can be used in the compost heap or spread on the garden.

In the natural world there is no concept of waste in time or space. Walk in ancient woodland, there is not growing piles of waste, not unless Man has been dumping waste. The output of one process is the input to another.

We should aim to close the cycle, to emulate these natural cycles, the output of one process the input to another, what we once saw as waste, the raw material for another process.

Kaffeeform coffee cups

December 10, 2017

Coffee cups made from recycled coffee grounds.

What to do with coffee grounds?

The ideal use is to use as compost, add to the garden.

3fe use in their garden behind the coffee shop. What they do not use, Littlecress take away use for growing cress, 3fe buy the cress.

The coffee grounds can be used for growing oyster mushrooms.

In Small Batch they have on sale kits for growing oyster mushrooms.  When I saw, I was baffled,  but did not inquire.

Small Batch supply their coffee grounds to the Espresso Mushroom Company, a mushroom grower, who in turn, supply Small Batch with mushroom growing kits.

The coffee grounds can be used in cakes, instead of ground coffee.

Rosalie McMillan has created the Java Collection, a range of jewellery that uses recycled silver, gold and diamonds combined with material derived from coffee grounds.

Green Cup turn coffee grounds into furniture.

Kaffeeform turn coffee grounds into coffee cups.

The idea to make cups out of coffee grounds came from studying
Product Design in Bolzano, Italy. After countless cups of espresso,
the founder, Julian Lechner, wondered whether the leftover
coffee grounds couldn’t be used for something new.

After numerous trials and experiments, the first prototype of
an espresso cup made from coffee grounds was developed there
in 2009.

The cups are unusual as both reusable and recyclable.

One cup and saucer can be made from the grounds of six cups of espresso, plus natural resins, waxes, oils, cellulose, biopolymers and wood fibre.

The cups include biopolymers. The walls of all plant cells are made of biopolymers, long chain molecules with properties allowing them to be plastically formed, and thereby eliminate use of crude oil based plastics.

At the end of their life, Kaffeform can recycle the cups to form the raw material for 3D printing.

The cups are not 3D printed, are moulded, and 3D printing would probably be more suited to prototype development, but does raise the interesting possibility, if the cups were made available as open source hardware could they be 3D printed locally?

A further question, at the end of their life, can the cups be composted?

The coffee grounds are collected daily from cafés and caterers in
the Berlin area.

In addition to cups, they have now also made a takeaway cup.

A useful comparison would be with the HuskeeCup which uses coffee husks.

It would appear to be a better design than the HuskeeCup.

I have not seen let alone handled or used a Kaffeeform cup, therefore difficult to comment further. But certainly stylish. I would be more than happy to try.

Zero waste supermarket

June 9, 2014

I find annoying, when I go into a supermarket and find everything is shrink-wrapped and overpackaged. One of the worst offenders is M&S who then have the gall to charge 5p for a plastic bag. They claim this goes to environmental charities. It does not, only 1p, and I doubt even that. It is greenwash by M&S, and an opportunity to rip off gullible customers.

And where fruit and vegetable are sold loose, as for example Waitrose or Lidl, why am I forced to use plastic bags, why not paper (which I can recycle on the compost heap)?

One reason why I buy off markets, it is seasonal, cheaper and fresher, and I can pop in a paper bag. At least I could. I notice some stalls are switching to plastic, which is a retrograde step.

Americans produce an unbelievable three pounds of trash every day. I do not produce that in a week, probably not in a month.

It is therefore good news, that a German supermarket Original Unvertpackt has moved to zero waste. The launch of the supermarket has been through crowd funding.

Customers are invited to bring in their own bags and bottles.

I remember Neals Yard Wholefoods, in an old warehouse in Neals Yard in Covent Garden. Everything was in bulk, you shovelled out what you wanted. Freshly ground peanut butter in large jars.

Original Unvertpackt is only a small step in the right direction. We have to recognise an end to growth, an end to the purchasing of worthless stuff, that goes on a one-way trip from mining, sweat production, sitting in the house for six months, then on its way to landfill or recycling.

TechStart

May 29, 2014
TechStart

TechStart

In the natural world, there is no such thing as waste in time or space. The output of one process is the input to another.

We cannot on a finite planet, have a linear process, where we mine, manufacture, use, then throw away.

Nor, on a finite planet, can we have infinite growth. We have enclosed the natural commons, social commons, intellectual commons, there is nothing left to enclose, we have reached the limit of growth.

On a linear system, the stuff that passes through our hands, on its way from mining to disposal, spends six months in our possession. All that environmental destruction, pollution, sweat shop factories, just six months before we throw away. We then have the problems of disposal.

The fastest growing waste stream is electrical goods.

TechStart based in Aldershot, run by volunteers, is a step in the right direction. They take in old computers, check them out, wipe clean the hard drive, install a new operating system (Windows 7) and put them on sale at low prices. Ideally they need to upgrade the machines, more memory and bigger hard drives, as some of their machines are so low spec as to be unusable.

As well as turning around computers, that would otherwise add to the waste stream, they will load Microsoft Office (far better to load Open Office), repair machines.

They have an area of working machines, which are available for teaching, or for people to pop in and use. There is also free wifi.

Located in The Galleries, probably the worst location in Aldershot (a dead shopping centre), but at least they only pay a peppercorn rent.

Opening hours 10-4 Wednesday-Saturday.

Their limiting factor at the moment is shortage of machines. Therefore if you have an old machine, work for a company, TechStart will be only too happy to take off your hands.

TechStart currently do not recycle mobile phones or tablets.

A mobile phone can be mined for its gold and other valuable materials, recovering about a dollars worth. There is a company in Holland that does this, phones are incinerated, around a kilogramme a week of gold is recovered. Or phones can be refurbished. A refurbished smartphone will sell for around $100.

FairPhone is a step in the right direct. They source their materials from conflict free zones (the raw materials are one of the main causes of conflict in Africa), use marginally better manufacturing conditions, and the phones are easy to repair (thus extending their lifetime).

FairPhone is a raw Android phone, lacks the clutter of other smartphones (exception being Google Nexus 5), retails at around 310 euros. It is easy to repair, parts are readily available. It is supplied unlocked and takes two sim cards. Additional memory can be added.

If you cannot open and repair your smartphone, you do not own it.

TechStart is a good example of gift economy and collaborative commons in action. Volunteers are working to provide cheap computers for the local community (in some cases free) and reducing the waste stream going to landfill or incineration.

TechStart is a very rare example of a good news story coming out of Aldershot.

We need more local businesses like TechStart, that work in the collaborative commons, that retain and recycle money within the local economy.

M&S cynical exercise in greenwash

April 26, 2012
M&S CEO Marc Bolland and Joanna Lumley at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London for the launch of new campaign 'Shwopping'.

M&S CEO Marc Bolland and Joanna Lumley at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London for the launch of new campaign 'Shwopping'.

I listened with growing incredulity to the M&S breathtaking crass hypocrisy and exercise in greenwash on You and Yours BBC Radio 4 this lunchtime.

M&S are shedding crocodile tears at the amount of clothes that are dumped every year in landfill. A billion items of clothing they claim. Their solution is that we take all our unwanted clothes to M&S for recycling, and no doubt replace with new clothes whilst we are there.

Cut out the middle man, take your clothes direct to a charity shop.

Support slow fashion, not fast fast; dress for style, not fashion; buy quality, not rubbish.

Is it necessary to replace what is in a wardrobe every few months with new clothes?

In M&S their food is over-packaged. I suggest we return all our packaging to M&S.

M&S charge 5p for a plastic carrier bag. Read carefully the small print: Only 1p goes to an environmental charity. This a cynical ploy to milk the customer and to distract from their over-packaging.

Why no paper bags in M&S for our loose fruit and vegetables? The bags can then be recycled or composted.

The stuff we buy spends less than six months in our homes before it continues on its one-way linear trip to landfill or incinerator.

The Story of Stuff

M&S compared the recycling of clothes through their stores with the successful recycling of glass bottles! When was the last time anyone took a glass bottle back? We recycle glass, not bottles!

Yes, we need to reduce our waste and energy consumption. We do so by reducing consumption and increasing recycling, not by taking our unwanted clothes to M&S and whilst we are there replacing old for new.

When you donate to charity shops, choose the smaller charities who do not throw away after a couple of weeks what you have taken the trouble to donate. Avoid Oxfam and British Heart Foundation who rip off customers with the prices they charge. Another reason to avoid Oxfam is that they are the partners in this greenwash scheme with M&S to encourage increased consumption.

Are people really this gullible that they fall for a cynical exercise in greenwash?

Shwoping is a slick marketing campaign to encourage easily led fools to empty their wardrobes and run off down to M&S to buy more clothes. Green it is not.

A green campaign, which shwopping claims to be, would encourage slow fashion, to buy quality, to value our clothes, not throw them away.

Shwoping is not sustainable fashion.

Slow fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher. It has evolved from slow food, is part of the slow movement.

Do we recycle enough of our clothes?
Disposable clothes
Oxfam rips off its customers (yet again)
M&S launches ‘shwopping’ scheme
Joanna Lumley joins M&S to launch shwopping
Joanna Lumley launches Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping campaign

The Story of Stuff

October 9, 2010

In the natural world there is no such thing as waste either in time or space. The output of one process is the input to another.

All loops should be closed. We should either use natural materials that can be reused, recycled or composted; or our manmade materials should parallel the natural world and form closed loops. We should have zero waste. All toxic materials should be eliminated.

All trade should be fairtrade.

Also see

The Story of Cosmetics

Lush Cosmetics – Our Environmental Policy