The Paper Coffee Cup. Needless Waste

Chose any coffee shop in China, look in the trash can, and what you will find is piles of needless waste.

Paper cups, plastic lids, and cup sleeves. Components of a coffee ritual that required energy and materials to produce, were transported 1000s of miles to the store, were given a useful life measured in minutes prior to ending up in a plastic bin, and then sent out to the landfill (incinerator).

100% waste that never should have occurred.

Yet, on a daily basis this waste goes on because the firms (who each claim to be environmental stewards) continue to support a product (paper cup), a process (training staff to give paper cup first), and an economic model that does not value the true costs of those paper cups, lids, or sleeves.

They have invested in convenience, not conscience,  in a short term “our consumers want” ,vs. “our community needs”, and are unwilling to act on their own to remove this needless waste.

A waste that they pay millions for every day in direct costs (cost of cups, lids, sleeves, and storage) and indirect costs (the cost of disposal). Costs that could be reduced, to the tune of millions, should they simply chose the ceramic mug for their in-house customers.

You know, those mugs that every store actually has, but forces the customer to insist upon.

UPDATE: Ironically, as this post went live, I had just ordered a latte at Costa Coffee and even with my request for a glass mug I was still served a paper cup.  The manger said sorry and asked if I’d like to transfer to the mug after as he thought it was a taste preference issue.  When I asked him why all the inhouse patrons were sipping from paper cups vs. mugs, all he could say was sorry.  Another example of how firms need to, if they are serious about their messages, need to train staff appropriately, and ensure they are acting in the best faith of the environmental message that the firm is externally communicating.

In the case of Costa, they say (on the first line of their responsibility page) that they “We want our coffee to leave a lasting impression on you, not our environment. That’s why we do everything we possibly can to look after the communities we serve, and the world we live in.”

Message good. Process fail.

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