It seems the fast food and takeout food industries are serious about solving the problem of billions of cups ending up in landfills. So serious are they that they just concluded Cup Summit #3, during which leading industry competitors met in the same room to hash out answers to the problem of waste. Now the pressure is on, because it’s not just the environmentalists complaining, but the customers as well. Mindy Lubber reported on Monday who met together and what was accomplished. It sounded like the biggest gain was just getting all the biggest sellers of prepared coffee in one room to share ideas- McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts , Green Mountain, Coke and Canada’s Tim Horton’s plus others all attended the meeting called by Starbucks. Also in attendance to help find an answer were experts in the recycling field. There was good news and bad news. The experts said they can find a way to recycle any material they are given. They recently had a big breakthrough with Tetra Pak, stating that if they could be recycled into a viable product, then any disposable cups could be. The end result was only obtained after hard work and persistence but a product was developed that proved to be stronger than new products. The other good news was that industry reps also said they could find buyers for the recycled products. Now comes the bad news. Even though the customers are asking for more sustainable food containers, they will have to be part of the solution, as four out of five of the disposable cups leave the premises –think drive-thru lanes. Starbucks, Dunkin’ and the rest will have to figure out a way to collect those cups. This was not reported to be part of the discussion. Is the customer going to be responsible enough to return their used cup to a collection site, if these become available? Already many of these restaurants are offering the best solution: the refillable reusable mug. Certainly the drive-thru customers should be able to keep their mugs in their cars and re-use them on a daily basis. ROASTe features several choices of car-safe tumblers and a silicone lid which turns all cups into travel mugs. The savings from the purchase of the disposable cups can be passed on to the customer, and though not much, the accumulated savings plus the satisfaction of helping the forests and the landfills should be enough incentive for coffee drinkers.
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