In 2016, Recycling Advocates kicked off a campaign focused on reducing the number of disposable, single use coffee cups going into area landfills. Our campaign slogan is “BYOC!” which stands for Bring Your Own Cup. This campaign will be a multi-year initiative for us, until we create a change in behavior within the Portland metro region, where disposable coffee cups are no longer the standard method for drinking coffee.
Why did we select this campaign?
- Portlanders LOVE their coffee!
- Disposable coffee cups are NOT recyclable!
- EACH disposable coffee cup is responsible for 0.24 lbs of carbon (C02) greenhouse gas emissions
- The environmental IMPACT of disposable coffee cups is enormous!
Did you know?
- Paper cups are not recyclable because of the plastic liner and coffee contamination.
- Garbage haulers do not accept plastic lids in curbside recycling bins.
- Cardboard sleeves can be recycled and reused, but often are not.
- The vast majority of disposable cups and lids sold at coffee shops eventually arrive at the landfill.
- You can bring your own reusable coffee cup and give it to the barista to fill up your coffee (both hot and cold). Learn more about the laws around reusable containers >>>
- Only 1-2% of Starbucks customers bring their own cup, even with a 10 cent discount incentive.3
- Starbucks estimated the cost of disposable packaging (coffee cup, lid, and insulating sleeve) at 15 cents back in 2000.1
How big is this problem?
- If an individual purchases a disposable cup every day, this creates about 23 pounds of waste per year.
- According to a study by Starbucks, each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 pounds of CO2 emissions.1
- Recycling Advocates estimates that 50 MILLION disposable coffee cups are used in the Metro area per year. This equates to 3 MILLION pounds of solid waste being generated and 6,000 metric tons of CO2 being generated. This is equivalent to almost 600,000 gallons of gas consumed, or 6 million pounds of coal burned for one year.2
Check out this infographic from eCO2greetings, comparing coffee cup usage to the Seattle Space Needle!
SHOW YOUR COMMITMENT! TAKE THE PLEDGE!
What can you do to help our campaign?
- Volunteer to table at an event, to educate consumers about the lack of recycling options, and the magnitude of the problem
- Promote our campaign to your friends and family through social media using “#BYOC” or through word of mouth.
- Encourage your local coffee shop to get involved with our campaign by incentivizing or encouraging their customers to avoid disposable coffee cups.
- Bring your own cup, or use a reusable mug in the store when you go to a coffee shop. Check out other Portland residents who already bring their own cup!
- Live or work in Portland? Check out the “Reduce, Reuse, Recaffeinate Plus” punch card program conducted every April to win prizes for bringing your own cup or bottle, reusing your bags, or having a waste-free lunch!
What are we encouraging coffee shops to do to support this campaign?
- Offer an incentive for customers who bring their own reusable cup.
- Financial incentives are typically 10 or 25 cents in the Portland area. This can be a discount, an additional tax for those who use disposable cups (also a report from Clear Water Fund and success from Nossa Familia), or donation to a charity.
- Offer a prize or larger incentive for multiple uses of their reusable cup (punch card for free coffee, or prize giveaways each month).
- Offer reusable cups for dining in.
- If reusable cups are available, ask customers if they want their coffee “for here or to go”
- Use of reusables increased from an average of 18% to 57% during the pilot test when customers were asked this question.1
- If reusable cups are available, ask customers if they want their coffee “for here or to go”
- Place a reminder sign where customers order or near the entrance, to remind them to bring their reusable cup.
- Sell reusable cups in your store, to make it easy for customers to obtain reusable cups if they don’t own one.
- Provide educational materials and information about disposable cups to customers
- Examples include table tents, email to newsletters, posts to social media, signs and posters on the wall, allow our handouts and materials to be displayed in the shop, etc.
Why don’t we focus on Starbucks, since they are so large?
Starbucks has actually done quite a few things to improve their impact on the environment. They offer in-store cups for use (when you ask), sell reusable cups, and offer a 10 cent discount when you bring your own. However, I think this statement from their website summarizes the need for individuals to drive this campaign through their behavior change.
We will continue to explore new ways to reduce our cup waste but ultimately it will be our customers who control whether or not we achieve continued growth in the number of beverages served in reusable cups. – Starbucks website
These coffee shops on the map support our campaign, please support their business!
Contact us if you know of a coffee shop that is encouraging reusable cups and trying to reduce disposable options.
If you are a coffee shop and want to get more involved, contact us to learn what you can do and how you can get featured on our site and with our members and volunteers. You can start with our checklist of ideas to encourage BYOC at your shop!
Spotlight on BYOC Coffee Shop Campaign supporters
Please support these great businesses for helping us make a difference!
- Nectar Cafe (website)
- Caffé D’arte (website)
- Common Grounds Coffeehouse (website)
- Marigold Coffee (website)
- Papaccino’s (website)
- Portland Art Museum (website)
- Staccato Gelato (website)
- Tiny’s Coffee (website)
- Jet Black Coffee (website)
- Jezebel’s Last Standing Merrygoround (website)
- Oracle Coffee (website)
- Bipartisan Cafe (website)
- Wind Horse Coffee (website)
- Ford Food and Drink (website)
- Triumph Coffee (website)
- Telvet Coffee (website)
- Longbottom Coffee (website)
- Thatcher’s Coffee (website)
- Tiny Moreso (website)
- Nossa Familia Coffee – Seven Corners (website)
- Intent Coffee (website)
- Core Coffee (website)
- Sisters Coffee (website)
- MHCC Bookstore Cafe (website)
Listen to the presentation from Nossa Familia about charging customers for to-go coffee cups! [Read full transcript]
Help spread the word! Post signs at your work break areas and cafeterias
Campaign alignment with other larger initiatives
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Goal 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Goal 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Goal 15 – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Multnomah County Climate Action Plan
- Objective 10 – Reduce per capita solid waste by 33% by 2030
Edible Coffee Cup made from wafers
Related Articles and Websites
- Nossa Coffee “To-Go” Cup Upcharge (OPB, 6/26/19)
- Starbucks, Dunkin’ further sustainable cup initiatives (Restaurant Dive, 6/11/19)
- Starbucks Bets London Airport Can Crack the Reusable Cup Code (Bloomberg, 6/9/19)
- This Portland Coffee Brand Is Creating Zero Waste Cafes through To-Go Cup Charges (4/30/19)
- Starbucks, Dunkin Race Against Bans, Taxes on Disposable Cups (4/28/19)
- Nossa Familia to Charge 25 Cents For To-Go Cups At All Cafe Locations (4/19/19)
- Will one of these 12 visions replace today’s throwaway coffee cup? (GreenBiz, 3/7/19)
- Berkeley imposes city-wide disposable cup fee (Restaurant & Café, 1/25/19)
- Why You’re Still Not Bringing a Reusable Mug For Your Daily Coffee (Sightline, 1/4/19)
- UK Coffee cups could get cigarette-style plastic warnings (Metro, 11/7/18)
- An option if you can’t stop using K-cups
- Free Boulder Colorado mug-share program wants to replace paper coffee cups (Restaurant Dive, 11/16/18)
- It Took Only 2 Hours for This Year’s Starbucks Holiday Cups to Cause Controversy (The Points Guy, 11/6/18)
- Fiber stakeholders offer details on cup-to-cup recycling effort (Resource Recycling, 11/6/18)
- Colorado MRF to sort single-use coffee cups (Resource Recycling, 9/25/18)
- We won’t save the Earth with a better kind of disposable coffee cup (The Guardian, 9/6/18)
- What Munich’s coffee houses learned about waste from beer culture (PRI, 8/14/18)
- Berkeley Proposes Tax on Disposable Food Containers (US News, 4/25/18)
- Decline in plastic bags on seabed suggests measures to tackle waste are working (Independent, 4/4/2018)
- Starbucks to Committ $10M to Recyclable, Compostable Cups (QSR, 3/20/18)
- The environmental impact of paper, polystyrene and ceramic cups throughout their lifetime (Carbon Clear)
- Britain Considers a ‘Latte Levy’ to Cut the Use of Coffee Cups (New York Times, 1/15/18)
- Germany has come up with the best solution to single-use coffee cups (World Economic Forum, 12/6/17)
- Wake up to a 5p tax on your coffee cup to boost recycling (The London Times, 11/1/17)
- Four solutions to the disposable coffee cup problem (BBC News, 10/11/17)
- How to successfully implement a bring your own mug (BYOM) habit (The Little Black Coffee Cup)
- For here or to go, and a few other questions (The Little Black Coffee Cup)
- Don’t Put a Lid On It Campaign (Behance, 12/10/16)
- A shot at coffee cup recycling in Australia (Eco-Business, 11/25/16)
- Starbucks should worry about recyclability, not pretty holiday designs (Treehuggers, 11/11/16)
- Coffee Cup Revolution coffee cup deposit event in Vancouver (BC) (Binners Project, 10/24/16)
- Manchester (UK) launches paper coffee cup recycling campaign (BBC, 10/12/16)
- 2016 Starbucks Better Cup campaign from Stand (8/7/16)
- Starbucks Cups Destroy Forests: 8000+ Paper Cups a Minute Used Once & Trashed (Huff Post, 7/11/16)
- Recycling tip – the White Paper Cup (SE Examiner, 5/31/16)
- Keurig’s New K-Cup Coffee Is Recyclable, But Hardly Green (NY Times, 4/15/16)
- Starbucks offers discount to customers who bring their own coffee cup in campaign win (Telegraph, 3/19/16)
- Government has ‘no plans’ to tax coffee cups (BBC, 3/18/16)
- Why You’re Still Not Bringing A Reusable Mug For Your Daily Coffee (Sightline, 3/8/16)
- Vancouver Considering Ban on Disposable Coffee Cups, Plastic Bags (CBC News, 2/5/16)
- LA coffee house invents the best edible coffee cups in the whole wide world (Metro, 9/9/14)
- A Brief History of the Disposable Coffee Cup (Bon Appetit, 5/30/14)
- If We’re Sharing Everything Else, Why Not Our Coffee Cups? (Fast Company, 4/25/14)
- Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate City of Portland campaign
- Strings of Cup Display (Wooster Colllege Sustainability, 4/12/13)
- 2012 De-cup Your Decaf – Pledge to use 5 less disposable coffee cups each week
- 2010 Beta Cup campaign – Organization to find the best ideas to eliminate paper cup consumption
- 2010 Carry Your Cup campaign – Pledge to use non-disposable cups for a given amount of time
- Disposable Coffee Cup Waste Reduction Study (Hanna Ziada, McMaster University, Dec 2009) – Study identifying three behavior changes: a prompt, a sign and an available alternative.
- The Basic Problem with Coffee Cups (Aug 2009)
- Studying the effect of price signals on disposable hot beverage cup consumption (Laur E Fisher, Tufts University, Thesis Paper, 2008)
Alternative Options for Disposable Coffee Cups
A project to help eliminate paper cup waste in London – A new, chai wallah-inspired project, Cup Club, which aims to reduce the amount of waste caused by disposable coffee cups in London.
Turning powerful stats into art – Artist Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.
Do other cities have coffee cup recycling options?
- All food service businesses in Seattle using compostable or recyclable service products for food consumed on the premises are required to provide bins for proper collection of these materials.
- Cedar Grove Commercially Acceptable Compostable Items – Coffee cups, sleeves and lids
+ San Francisco
- Bye, Bye, Coffee Cups: Why San Francisco Banned Foam Products – Ban on expanded polystyrene (includes some types of coffee cups)
- Recology: Commercial Recycling, Composting & Trash Services – Compost coffee filters and recycle coffee cup lids
Disposable coffee cup image created from photo at https://conversation.which.co.uk/food-drink/recycling-disposable-coffee-cups-starbucks/
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