This article originally appeared here.
— Printed Cup Company (@PrintedCupCo) November 18, 2014
At the moment there is a huge push for being green and helping out the environment, and one of the biggest things spearheading this push is the bio-degradable market. But why?
The general consensus at the moment is this: A company markets their new bio-degradable line of products to a café, the café is a green café, very aware of the environment, serves only the finest responsibly sourced products, recycles the products they use in the store and laments over the paper cups they sell not being very “green” so they pay the high cost for bio-degradable cups and then feel better about themselves.
Now let’s shift focus to the end-user, the consumer. A customer will go into a café, “a hazelnut latte to go please”, they then receive their nice warm beverage in a bio-degradable paper cup. “Thanks, keep the change.”
The customer heads off on their merry way thinking they’ve done something excellent for the environment. But this is where it all comes crashing down.
As the last drops of coffee drip onto the customers tongue they then become burdened with something…an empty paper cup, aka, litter.
Looking around they see black bins all over the place, maybe the blue outline of paper recycling (the cup can’t go in there either, it’s contaminated with food and also lined with plastic, bio-degradable plastic sure, but plastic all the same). The only place this cup is useful is in an industrial composter and there certainly aren’t collection points lining the streets so where does the cup go? In the black bin.
Where does the black bin go? The landfill.
Ultimately then the café has paid premium price for a product that was supposed to be green but has actually ended up in a landfill, where it is useless as a bio-degradable cup.
“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Even if it is in a landfill, it will still degrade faster than everything else.”
Except it won’t.
When refuse is taken to a landfill it is essentially vacuum packed as it is crushed down. Without air the bacteria will not grow, thus there is nothing there to actually breakdown the products. 50 year old newspapers have been dug up from old sites and are still readable.