Following broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign on coffee cup waste, David McLagan – the founder and ceo of coffee cup brand Ecoffee Cup – has pitched in with his views.
Hugh is on a mission to change the way we think about waste, by challenging the supermarkets and fast food industry to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate. He is a multi-award-winning writer, celebrity chef and campaigner on food and environmental issues, known for his back-to-basics philosophy.
But David believes we need to focus on changing consumer behaviour rather than holding out for the big coffee corporations to effect change. He founded Ecoffee Cup in 2013. Billed as ‘a new generation of reusable takeaway cup’, it is made from biodegradable bamboo fibre and non-GMO corn starch, and is BPA- and phthalate-free. Available in a wide range of designs, Ecoffee Cup is light at 135g, has a fully resealable ‘drip-proof’ lid, and is dishwasher safe.
David said: “In Hugh’s War on Waste campaign, he estimates that 2.5 billion single-use cups per year go to landfill in the UK. But the problem is much bigger when we look beyond Britain.
“Over 100 billion single-use cups go to landfill each year. Unfortunately, no-one can (or will be inclined to) disclose exactly how many cups are manufactured per year.
“The major culprits – the big coffee shop chains – are particularly sheepish. Single-use cups make up a major component of their consumer offering and are entrenched in their business model. It’s difficult for them to change their behaviour unless they are forced to. They also claim that alternative cup options affect the ‘perfect coffee experience’. So, sadly, reusables don’t meet their business criteria.
“Due to the volumes produced, single-use cups are cheap and make up a miniscule percentage of the cost of a cup of coffee, which means a change to something more sustainable will impact on profits, and shareholders are averse to anything that does that.
“Starbucks has announced it will be trialling Frugal Cup – a recyclable single-use cup – in the UK. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, we don’t believe it tackles the problem at the source. We can’t see how this will work in practical terms either.
“In order to have any impact at all, coffee chains need to invest in special facilities – dedicated bins, dedicated waste recovery, dedicated recycling facilities – and pool resources to do it. Unfortunately, we can’t see this happening any time soon.
“So, rather than focusing on the recycling of single-use cups, it’s behaviour that needs to change. Sadly, within two decades we have become a single-use, plastic society. We’re all a bit lazy. We feel it’s difficult to avoid plastic, difficult to avoid single-use. No-one is apportioning blame and preaching is counterproductive, but like single-use plastic bottles, and more recently, plastic bags, it’s evident that it’s not that hard to change a few little things to help make a big difference. Reusable coffee cups are the way forward.”
Ecoffee Cup has set up the #stopthe100billion social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue and ‘effect real change in the way we consume coffee’.
Ecoffee Cup is a reusable takeaway cup made from biodegradable bamboo fibre