I carry in my wallet a couple of “coffee cards,” carrying credit at different local and chain coffee shops. Next to the ubiquitous Starbuck’s card is my sadly neglected Costa Coffee card, well-used in my days as a resident of the UK. (No, not London, but a little Buckinghamshire farm town all too similar to Cabot – where I live – and the rural town members of the District.)
I still read the UK press, and ran across an eye-opener: Costa – with walk-in shops EVERYWHERE in the UK – is partnering with a resource recovery firm to recycle any “paper” take-away coffee cup – no matter the brand(!!) Experts estimate that only 1 in 400 take-away coffee cups are recycled in the UK because they are made of a difficult-to-recycle mix of paper and plastic. Most of the remainder, of course, goes to the land fill. Costa has a waste-handling partner whose model is “circular”; that is, turning used materials back into valuable resources. They say “Traditional ways of working need to give way to new and more dynamic operations and business models. This will include increased collaboration across industry, commerce and the public sector and a rethink of how products are manufactured and sold in order to create new efficiencies.”
My personal goal is to NOT purchase goods in personal use quantities, or those with one-time use packaging, or those made of difficult-to-recycle mixes of materials. But what I’d really like to see is more producers and retailers thinking “circular” and developing material flows that are more collaborative and efficient from the consumer perspective. You probably live in Vermont if you’re reading this, so you can count the number of green take-away coffee cups most of our retailers offer. How many millions of these could go the way of the circular Costa cups, if our producers and retailers worked together? If the Vermont Coffee Company, Green Mountain Coffee, Keurig and the other familiar names are working on this, I’d love to hear about it.
Read about Costa's coffee cup recylcing program here.
This blog post brought to you by Bruce Westcott, the CVSWMD General Manager.
by CVSWMD General Manager Bruce Westcott
Cassandra Hemenway, CVSWMD Outreach Manager, Charlotte Low, Outreach Coordinator, Cara Stapleford CVSWMD Eco-Americorps Service Member and Jan Lloyd, Zero Waste Events Coordinator all contribute to this blog.