With so much debate around single use disposable cups and the possibility of the introduction of a “latte levy”, retailers are responding in a knee-jerk manner by introducing fully compostable cups.
To compound this, Minister Naughten released a statement in which he has promised that these cups will be exempt from any possible levy. The main problem with these compostable cups is that in order for them to be processed correctly they need to be placed in a compost bin and Ireland does not have the street compost bin infrastructure in place to ensure that this will happen.
While compostable packaging is a better option, this change is only worthwhile if the cups are disposed of correctly in a composting facility. A compostable cup is not like an apple core that will rot on the ground in normal conditions. These cups must be sent to an industrial composter that will generate the proper conditions for the cup to decompose..
Alternatively, if these cups are placed in the mixed dry recycle bin they will enter a sorting facility, get mixed with paper and card which means that they will decrease the quality of the grade of paper materials to recycle.
By placing them in the general waste bin they will either end up in landfill or be burned in a waste to energy plant (incinerator). If they end up in landfill, they degrade in anaerobic conditions and similar to food waste they can emit climate-damaging methane gas as they break down — the most potent and damaging of the greenhouse gases.
One must consider the amount of greenhouse gases released, energy and water consumed and material wasted in the production of one single-use cup, compostable or non compostable.
Consider this… A compostable cup is a disposable cup.
So, instead of rushing in to get your take away coffee and burning your lip as you try to sip and walk to work, why not take a 10 minute break, sit and sip your coffee in a ceramic cup and save the planet one disposable cup at a time.
If you are really in a rush, bring your own cup, visit a coffee shop that supports the Conscious Cup Campaign, get a discount AND save the planet one disposable cup at a time.
As we experience continued exponential population growth there will be increasing pressures on our planet and our finite resources. There is a limit to how much the earth can provide when we are constantly depleting it of its’ resources.
We immediately need to adapt and reduce our consumption and encourage reuse.