Zero Waste: City of Vancouver vs Single Use Cups

Zero Waste: City of Vancouver vs Single Use Cups
Photo credit: City of Vancouver

Zero Waste: City of Vancouver vs Single Use Cups

A few weeks back pretty much every single major news publication in Vancouver ran some sort of article that more or less said, “Zero Waste: City of Vancouver vs Single Use Cups. EVERYONE F*CKING PANIC, CITY OF VANCOUVER IS COMING FOR YOUR CAFFEINE FIX”.

Zero Waste: City of Vancouver vs Single Use Cups

I must admit, I do love a good panic like the next person and was contemplating getting involved in the pile on, but thought I’d let the dust settle and see what happened. Also I’m lazy and the new season of Stranger Things got released.

On Thursday, COV held a public meeting to discuss single use containers (not just cups, but that’s what I’ll be focusing on). I went to the event with Dan from Ecoalize, a company that imports awesome collapsible reusable cups from Stojo.

Here’s what I learned:

* No, Vancouver is not going ban single use cups. Well, not any time soon… 2040 is the date they’re aiming to have the issue of single use cups resolved.
* They are, however, looking to ban polystyrene cups. If you use these at your coffee shops then you deserve to have them taken away from you, heathen.
* They want to reduce single use cups by 50% by 2020. Amazingly, they’re already 30% of the way there.
* You were not allowed to touch the mic at this event. They were really stern about this. Terrifyingly so. This has nothing to do with cups but it amused me no end.
* Vancouver is looking for businesses to volunteer for a share a cup system. No, this does not mean you can shout “SHARESIES” and drink my espresso if I turn my back on it. This means that coffee shops will be part of a scheme to share a pool of reusable cups that can be surrendered at any participating venue. This is being trailed in NYC, LA, San Francisco and Portland. I don’t personally see this working, but it’d be great if it did.
* Fees to use a single use cup are being considered, much like bags in the supermarket.
* Analysis of street cleaning showed that a whopping 50% of garbage is single use containers (not just cups though, other things like burger wrappers)
* Deposit/refund system is a potential solution. I personally love this idea. For cans and bottles this is 99% effective. If the user doesn’t return them, then usually someone on the street will.
* Recycling of “compostable” materials is often completely impractical. What this means is that just because it’s labelled as compostable, doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.
* A commonly held belief is that the plastic coating inside a single use cup is usually the reason why they can’t be recycled. Good news! Vancouver can recycle those types of cups in their new facility.
* They’re considering grants and business license fee reductions for companies involved in reducing waste.

There were a ton of other ideas, but these are the most interesting in my opinion. If you want to learn more about this, their website is a goldmine of information and can be found here.

The final thing I want to mention is that I was pretty disappointed to see how few people from the coffee industry attended the event. Kudos to Cartems Donuterie for sending someone to represent them but that was it (unless you count me, a moron who managed to strong-arm his way into the coffee scene because he knew how to setup a website).

If you work in the Vancouver coffee industry, you definitely need to be aware that change is coming and this is your opportunity to be a part of it. You have the chance to influence the decisions that are made, that will directly effect how much money it costs, or saves you.

If you don’t get involved, then you better goddamn well believe that Starbucks, Tim Hortons, McDonalds and any other behemoth will try and make it work for them instead.

Oh right and also it’s good for the environment and stuff.

Now go buy a Stojo cup. I have one and they’re honestly awesome.

Also go read what The Little Black Coffee Cup has to say about the bring your own mug movement.

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