Environment left counting the costa coffee cups

SO last night I watched Hugh Fernly-What’s-his-face on the BBC. I forget the exact name of the programme, ought to be called Britain’s Recycling Hell or something of that ilk, Counting the Costa Coffee, How to Save a Few (Star) Bucks. Something like that. I started watching it through lack of anything else to watch…. and ended up feeling pretty outratged.

For anyone who didn’t see it, the UK’s coffee chains (largely Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero) – along with Amazon in a separate issue – got a bit of a hammering. For the coffee chains it was over one thing. Their cups. Which despite their protestations, misleading statements and ambigous policies are not, it would seem, recyclable.

I mean, they are recyclable…. if you have a very specific recycling facility available, which there isn’t. And so they aren’t, not really. But of course they are, technically, which it seems has allowed them to suggest to the public at large that they are recyclable because they technically are. But of course the public thinks if something is recyclable, then it is recycled, regularly by many people. Which this isn’t.

Follow? In summary, they’re not recyclable because only one plant in the UK can take those sort of cups, because of the ‘plastic film’ used to make them water-tight. And that plant hardly does any. We have a similar situation at Sirane with nylon packaging. We get asked ‘is nylon recyclable?’…. well technically yes, if there’s a nylon recycling faciilty in your town or city. Which is shorthand for ‘no, not really’. If there’s one recycling plant in Uzbekistan, and I sell a nylon bag to a man in Stockholm, it’s a bit rich for me to try and claim that the bag is recyclable. 

As they showed on the programme, it is possible to make take-away cup which is recyclable. So why don’t they… probably because it would cost another penny per cup, and so because they have been allowed to get away with it, they don’t in order to save money. I guess in a year, whatever the difference is (1p was entirely my supposition…) it adds up.

It will be interesting to see this one pan out. He won his battle last year on wonky veg, persuading a number of supermarkets to start selling ‘less than perfect’ veg and some to relax their stringent guidance for growers, which has stopped so much perfectly healthy veg being thrown away or left to rot in the fields. He did so by getting the public on board. I suspect he might win this one too in the long-term.

And for anyone interested in what the section of the programme on Amazon was about, it was boxed. Ludicrously oversized boxes.


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