Choosing Reusable Cups and Bottles – Top 5 Initiatives to Fight Plastic Pollution Part 5

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Guest Post by Erika Mastrorosa*

The final post in our series – if you haven’t read the others, please follow the links below for the full story about¬†reducing the pollution associated with plastic production.

There are FIVE things we do to reduce our plastic footprint.

  1. Eliminating virgin plastic bottles
  2. Eliminating plastic packaging for food
  3. Using alternative mixtures in manufacturing
  4. Introducing a deposit return scheme
  5. Choosing reusable cups and bottles

Reusable Cups and Bottles

Recycling a takeaway coffee cup is not easy. In order to be leakproof and to retain heat, the cups are made of a mixture of plastic and paper, making the recycling process quite problematic.

99.75% of UK coffee cups don’t get recycled at the moment, but a growing number of retailers are now producing recyclable cups, while others are inviting customers to bring their own reusable mug

In the UK, Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero are encouraging consumers to choose environmentally sustainable options with rewards in the form of 20 to 50p discount or stamps on loyalty cards.

Costa has pledged to recycle 500 million takeaway coffee cups a year by 2020, working together with national waste collectors offering incentives for every tonne of takeaway cups collected.

One of the major issues of this recycling initiative is that takeaway cups can only be recycled in store, with only a small number of plants now processing used cups.

However, many of these chains are tackling the plastic pollution problem by participating in different initiatives. So-called ‘refill schemes‘ are now on the rise and have become a national campaign that aims at reducing the number of disposable plastic bottles. Cafes, shops and businesses have started to install water fountains to refill bottles for free. Pret a Manger and Costa – among many others – are participating in the initiative and many more companies are likely to follow.

The scheme even offers an app to locate the nearest fountain and to add refill stations on the map. The initiative will save you money and will help the environment. Why not be an active supporter of the change?

Fixing the world’s problems when it comes to pollution clearly requires more than a bottle return scheme or a campaign to promote reusable cups. However, not everything is lost. If governments, international and local companies and citizens themselves are truly dedicated to reducing plastic pollution, achieving¬† feasible environmental benefits is not an unrealistic task. We need to think carefully about the opportunities available to combat pollution. Modifying the direction of an entire economic system and the attitudes of its actors will be a slow process, but the mere fact that we are acknowledging our impact on the planet is a step forward to bringing together our efforts to reduce plastic footprint. There is still a long way to go, but at least these initiatives are paving the way to transform our production systems.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

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