Coffee Cups Will Become Plant Pots

Oct 28, 2016 | written by:

The amount of coffee cups thrown away around the world is enough to make anyone jittery-the caffeine-guzzling whereas US alone throws an estimated 60 billion away each year with a considerable environmental cost: the thin layer of plastic around the cups which prevents them from disintegrating makes them almost impossible to recycle, indeed each cup taking around 30 years to break down and it’s only going to get worse.

Global coffee consumption is at an all-time high and is expected to keep growing as emerging markets like India and China start drinking more and more of this energy elixir. Hubbub (we wrote an article about this British environmental charity some months ago) is trying to solve this global problem by designing coffee cup-shaped trash cans with large lettering urging people to recycle. Having separate bins for the cups makes it easier to send them off to recycling plants which have technology to deal specifically with the material.

Hubbub recently placed 11 of these bins around Manchester as part of a pilot program with the aim to recycle at least 20,000 cups by the end of the year, which will then turn into 15,000 plant pots for communal gardens, as part of efforts to make the city greener. The project has funding from McDonalds, KFC, Nestlé, Pret à Manger, and others, without spending public money.

Britons clearly need some incentives to get rid of their coffee cups properly. Peter Goodwin, the owner of Simply Cups, the UK's only coffee cup recycler, estimates that less than 1% of the 2.5 billion coffee cups used in Britain each year end up being recycled. Hubbub has previously used other creative ideas to get people to be green, such as asking smokers to vote for the world's best soccer player by dropping their used cigarettes in bins under their names instead of on the street. If the Manchester trial succeeds by getting near the 20,000 mark, the charity plans to grow the campaign with 50 trash cans in Central London next year.

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