Where you dispose of your takeaway coffee cup makes all the difference

August 26, 2020

Where you dispose of your takeaway coffee cup makes all the difference

Health regulations during the pandemic mean coffee drinkers have to try harder to manage their waste. Photo: Isabella Austin

The increase of takeaway coffee cups due to Covid-19 level 3 restrictions means Aucklanders are having to deal with compostable packaging and disposing of it correctly.

Compostable cup use is increasing, but it should not go into landfill says Fraser Hanson of Innocent Packaging.

His company has lost a lot of sales due to concerts and larger events unable to go ahead.

“But there’s been some growth in some other areas, so restaurants and cafes that usually wouldn’t be doing takeaway, are now moving to do takeaways,” Mr Hanson said.

However, the majority of plant-based packaging such as Innocent Packaging’s coffee cups are not home compostable.

Mr Hanson says commercial composting plants where their cups need to go are not widely accessible in the country, meaning a lot of compostable coffee cups end up in landfill.

Between 30% and 50% of what Auckland sends to landfill from kerbside collection is food scraps.

“The good thing is that they are growing and in Auckland we do, there’s providers that can pick up the packaging and take it, along with your food waste.”

Innocent Packaging created ‘The Full Package’ in 2018, a system where they provide bins for people to dispose of compostable coffee cups.

If the customers of these bins do not have a compost facility near them they can bag up the waste and send them direct to Innocent Packaging, where they will compost it correctly.

Ozone Coffee in Grey Lynn is one of the few businesses which gives its compostable coffee cups to Soil Factory, another community composting service run out of Kelmarna Gardens, collecting waste weekly from local businesses and households via e-cargo bike.

Kelmarna Gardens have paused their collection services due to level 3 health and safety protocols, meaning Ozone is holding on to its compost and used coffee cups.

“We’re doing our part as much as we can and they're doing theirs as much as they can,” said Ozone restaurant manager James Prendergast.

Luke Baker, an advisor at the Ministry for the Environment says it’s important to put health first as a “blanket rule” with essential single-use packaging, but he questions what essential means.

“There are some real strides being made but there are some areas, like waste, which we are not making any progress in,” said Mr Baker.

“Do we actually need to go and get that flat white in your takeaway cup?”

Isabella Austin talks with Luke Baker about that flat white question:


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