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Reusable vs Disposable Cups During COVID-19

b-coffee-enjoyed-out-of-home1As the industry body representing the full length of the UK coffee sector the British Coffee Association and its members have been hard at work for some time now on delivering a sustainable approach to the issue of coffee cups.  In recent years members, and others, have developed a range of re-usable cups which consumers have been adopting in increasing numbers as an important option to support waste reduction initiatives.

The spread of Covid-19 and in particular the restrictions put in place by Government for public health reasons brought a dramatic halt to the ability for reusable cups to be used in coffee shops.  Over recent weeks those restrictions have been easing and the industry has responded by finding ways of bringing reusable cups back into use in a contact-free way.  This has not been a perfect solution however for either consumers or baristas – who need to make the drink and then pour it into a reusable cup to maintain contact-free guidelines. This is particularly challenging when they take great pride in presenting their coffees to a high quality.

Disposable cups therefore continue to play an important part in delivering great coffee.  What is more, they are all fully recyclable.  Where we continue to face our biggest challenge, a challenge we share with other providers of multi-layered paper based products, is in having a recycling infrastructure that can effectively and efficiently deal with these products whether they are disposed of in a home bin, a coffee shop bin or a bin on the high street provided by the local authority.

Until such time as we have that infrastructure in place – and that means Government, local authorities and industries having to work together to deliver that infrastructure- we are not going to meet the targets we all want to see.  That of every coffee cup being properly disposed of, captured, and recycled.  With more evidence suggesting a green recovery can be an economically beneficial recovery, this would seem to be a key element of making that a reality.