Every year, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are discarded in the United Kingdom. A half-million tonnes of ground coffee waste is disposed of in landfills. The ButterflyCup was created by a pair of Irish entrepreneurs. It has no plastic lining or lid, and it can be pulped or recycled with cardboard. Burger King, Columbia University, and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust have all signed on to the cup. By 2050, the UK government has committed to becoming carbon-neutral. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of used coffee grounds end up in landfills in the United Kingdom. Many elements of the coffee industry, such as the plastic bags in which coffee beans are shipped, produce emissions.
To achieve the carbon-neutral goal, we must completely reconsider how we mass-produce consumer goods. In the coffee industry, a new crop of companies is experimenting with more consumer-friendly models. The Ernie milk float transports coffee in bulk to offices using an electric milk float from 1963. When doing its rounds, it gathers the empty ones to reuse, using reusable containers made of recyclable plastic.
From shoes to shoes, coffee grounds are used to produce a wide range of products. Bio-bean, a business based in the United Kingdom, turns coffee grounds into bio-fuel logs for stoves. In recent years, sales of coffee pods have increased by nearly 20% in the United Kingdom. Single-use pods are used in Nespresso machines, so they can be composted to make compostable pods. Pods that can be sent to food recycling centres have also been created by some businesses. Compostable pods for home coffee machines are now available from companies including Grind. This means that decomposition takes place in a regulated, industrial environment, and electricity can be produced as a result. Much will be determined by how eager customers are to get on board.