When it comes to wastage in the hospitality industry, I have seen both ends of the spectrum. I have worked in cafés that dispose of hundreds of single use plastic containers in their general rubbish bin every week without a second thought. I have also worked in a café that took all of their food scraps home for their pet chickens, and would never use anything longer than the 1 minute rinse cycle on the dishwasher. There is a middle ground, and we can all start to be more aware of reducing our use.
Reducing our waste is not a generational fad. As cheesy as it sounds, it is a necessary step we must all take for the sake of our future. However, the nature of the hospitality industry almost guarantees wastage, whether it be food waste, single-use plastic, paper, chemical cleaners and the all too recognisable paper takeaway cup. As coffee professionals, we are in a unique position to set an example and inspire our customers to follow suit.
The War on Waste
We are all becoming more aware of our impact on the environment. The War on Waste, which aired on ABC, put the spotlight on take away food and coffee containers. KeepCup could hardly keep up with the demand placed upon their product after the show premiered in 2017, with sales increasing by 400%.
More than 1 billion disposable coffee cups are used by Australians’ annually. Most commercial and residential recycling bins are not geared to accept the plastic lined paper cups, which means 92%, or 2.7 millions cups, go to landfill every day.
Encouraging customers to bring their own cup is an excellent way to reduce waste in the café environment, as is reducing your reliance on single use plastics (i.e. straws, food containers, plastic cutlery). Another way is to divert your food waste away from general landfill and in to an organic composting facility.
Simple Changes = Big Impact
In 2016 Leaf Bean Machine discontinued double wall cups and only began stocking single wall. This simple change allowed us to reduce our carbon footprint by 20%. We are big advocates for BioPak products; we distribute them to all of our wholesale cafes. We also use and recommend their composting service; BioPak packaging is made from bioplastics and certified commercially compostable, meaning it can be diverted from landfill and composted along with your food scraps #towardszerowaste.
Since joining the composting service in November last year, Leaf Bean Machine have successfully:
Offset 64 tonnes of carbon emissions
Avoided 3 tonnes of plastic being made
Diverted 175kg of organics from landfill and into nutrient dense compost.
We are so proud to be a part of the “circular economy”, doing our part as coffee professionals to reduce our impact. But coffee cups are just one of the concerns facing the hospitality industry. There are so many ways we can reduce our use and recycle. Here are some ideas:
Coffee grinds: give to customers for their gardens
Food scraps: begin a composting system, start a worm farm or feed some chickens
Organise a co-mingled recycling bin for the workplace and ensure your staff know what can be recycled
Give your customers access to a composting bin system for their compostable cups and packaging
Purchase paper products from whogivesacrap.com.au
Use BioPak paper straws and phase out the plastic
And most importantly, support your local coffee roaster! Reduce your carbon footprint by buying and using locally produced goods and services, and only use suppliers who are just as committed to promoting change as you are.
Catterall, Elise (2017). “ABC’s War on Waste creates unprecedented demand for sustainable coffee cups”. https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/news/display/1299
Written by Josie