In the UK it is estimated that we drink around 70 million cups of coffee per day and 2/3 of us tend to buy from coffee shops rather than make our own at home. It is estimated that if you placed all the paper cup used in the UK in one year end-to-end, they would go around the world 5 and ½ times! While this trend is good for our highstreets, in 2012 the estimated turnover for coffee shops was £5.8 billion, there is a growing environmental issue. Less than 1% of paper cups are being recycled, with most ending up in landfill.

 

One of the main issues is with the composition of the cups themselves. As they are made from a combination of paper and plastic, they have to undergo special treatment in order to separate the paper for recycling. At the moment there are only 2 facilities in the UK that can do this process, and while they are hoping to expand in the next few years, they are currently struggling to meet the demand.

 

This composition also makes the cups difficult to sort when recycling. Due to the plastic liner they cannot be placed in paper recycling and they aren’t always filtered correctly when mixed recycling is sorted. There is also an issue with contamination, as items often need to be clean and dry before they are recycled. This sometimes means that even if the cups are put in the correct recycling bin, they still end up in landfill.

 

There have been calls from campaigners for a tax on disposable cups, similar to the one introduced on plastic bags in October, as a way of encouraging the use of reusable cups. However the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a statement that there are currently no plans for a tax.

 

One of the easiest ways to tackle this issue is to use a reusable cup when ordering take-away coffee. Starbucks has even introduced a 25p discount on drinks if you bring your own cup (and it doesn’t have to be Starbucks branded!). There are many types of reusable cups available to buy in high street and online stores, which many people claim even help improve the flavour of the coffee!

 

Sources:

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35840916

British Coffee Association: http://www.britishcoffeeassociation.org/about_coffee/coffee_facts/

Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/15/coffee-cup-britons-3-billion-so-few-recylced

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/16/takeaway-coffee-cups-recycle-environment-waste

Simply Cups: http://www.simplycups.co.uk/

Starbucks: http://www.starbucks.co.uk/customer-service/faqs/coffeehouse

Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/disposable-coffee-cups-tax-whats-the-solution-to-all-this-waste/

The term ‘circular economy’ has become popular in recent years in discussions about recycling and waste reduction, but what does it actually mean? The charity WRAP defines a circular economy as a system “where we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use and regenerate products at the end of the resources life”. In more simple terms this means using items for as long as possible and recycling or reusing them, rather than just throwing them away.

 

One easy way to contribute to a circular economy is to donate and buy clothes from charity shops. This keeps clothes out of landfill, where approximately 350,000 tonnes are sent every year, as well as helping charitable causes.

 

Recycling everyday items also help to contribute to a circular economy, especially in the case of tin cans. Recycling aluminium can happen time and time again without any loss of quality. As a bonus, creating a can from recycled materials only uses 5% of the energy needed to create one from scratch.

 

There are many other ways to help develop a circular economy, from simple ways like using scrap paper, to the more entrepreneurial like using coffee grounds to heat your home (more details here http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/14/the-innovators-how-your-coffee-can-light-up-your-barbecue-and-boiler).

 

Please leave a comment or Tweet us @ACEnvironment with more ideas about contributing to a circular economy.

 

Sources:

WRAP: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/wrap-and-circular-economy

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/feb/11/retailers-campaign-old-clothes-waste

Recycle Now: https://www.recyclenow.com/facts-figures/how-it-recycled/cans

Each year UK householders waste on average 7 million tonnes of food waste. Of this waste, 4.2 million tonnes is avoidable, the equivalent of 6 meals every week for the average household. This wastage is estimated to cost £470 for the average householder and £700 for a household with children according to data from WRAP.

At ACE, as part of our Sustainable Communities Project we are trying to engage and communicate with communities about living sustainably, including food waste avoidance. To achieve this we run interactive workshops to engage local communities and provide practical tips and information.

So what can I do? ACE has come up with a series of simple steps that can be carried out to reduce your food waste and save your money!

1. Planning, Planning, Planning!

-Create shopping lists to make sure you only buy what you need and plan meals ahead.
-Love your leftovers – get creative! Come up with new recipes using leftover food.

2. Portion sizes

-Perfect portion sizes, only cook what you can eat! Check the labels on pasta and rice packets for further guidance.

3. Storage

-Make the most of your freezer! The freezer can be a useful way to store food you have not eaten and reheat when you need. Be careful to check the guidelines as to how long items can be frozen . (Guidelines)
-Store foods at the correct temperature, check food labels to ensure you are storing them at the right temperature so they stay fresher for longer.
-Use date labels on food to make sure you know when it will expire.

So why not give some of these quick and easy tips a go?! Not only will you be reducing your carbon footprint by avoiding food waste but you will also be saving money!

Head to WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste page for recipes and more information. One of our favourite recipes at ACE are these crispy fried rice cakes which can be quickly made up using everyday items from the kitchen.

Or why not get in contact with ACE to organise a workshop in your area? At info@ace.org.uk or 02072506961.

Waste is something that we all have and interact with on a daily basis, whether at home, in public or in the workplace. The United Kingdom sends more waste to landfills than any other nation in Europe, but why? By comparison to another large industrialised European nation such as Germany, Britain puts 20 million tonnes of waste into the ground annually compared to their 500,000 tonnes. At ACE we are trying to combat this unnecessary waste in Britain, we are trying to promote waste to be used as a resource and end our addiction to automatically putting things we don’t want or need immediately into landfills. When waste is put into landfills it emits methane, a highly damaging gas and is 20 times more detrimental to the environment than the infamous carbon dioxide. Processes such as, anaerobic digestion which turns sewage and food waste into a sustainable energy source. Britain discard 18 million tonnes of food waste each year, if the energy was harnessed from this waste it would be enough to heat 700,000 homes. Action for Community and Environment is promoting and exploring ways to recycle waste and use it as a resource in both the professional and home environments. ACE is holding and event in Holborn on the 3rd of April 2013 that will include a tremendous number of opportunities for companies to network and learn how to turn waste into an advantage. We invite anyone who wishes to change their life or business for the better and reduce their waste!