The rising trend to not offer crockery or reusable cups in coffee shops, and even more so since COVID, has once again stirred up the debate: Is a reusable cup more environmentally friendly than a take-away up?
Although some will argue that the time, energy and water usage in preparing reusable cups is more cost effective plus inconsiderate to the environment, in general, reusable cups are considered more environmentally friendly than takeaway cups.
- Waste reduction: Reusable cups significantly reduce the amount of waste generated compared to single-use takeaway cups. Disposable cups are typically used once and then discarded, contributing to landfill waste or, in some cases, litter. Reusable cups, on the other hand, can be used multiple times, reducing the overall demand for single-use items.
- Resource consumption: The production of takeaway cups requires resources such as paper, plastic, and energy. Reusable cups, when used over an extended period, reduce the need for continuous production and consumption of disposable cups, thereby conserving resources.
- Energy and emissions: Manufacturing disposable cups involves energy-intensive processes, including extraction of raw materials, transportation, and production. Reusable cups, while they require energy for their initial production, can offset this impact over time as they are used repeatedly.
- Recycling and composting limitations: Although some takeaway cups are recyclable or compostable, not all recycling facilities or composting systems are equipped to handle them properly. As a result, a significant portion of disposable cups may still end up in landfills or as litter. Reusable cups eliminate the need for recycling or composting altogether, reducing the burden on waste management systems.
- And most importantly – Consumer behaviour: Using a reusable cup encourages a shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainability. It promotes a mindset of reducing waste, reusing items, and taking personal responsibility for environmental impact.
It’s worth noting that the environmental impact of cups also depends on factors like the materials used, production processes, transportation, and waste management systems in different regions. However, overall, reusable cups tend to have a lower environmental footprint compared to disposable takeaway cups.