As a college student, I definitely need more than the one cup of coffee than I have at home in the morning. I use a reusable coffee cup that I have had for a long time. The brand is known as KeepCup.1 Mine is made of tempered soda lime glass, has a cork sleeve to protect your hand from the heat and a polypropylene alloy lid. All around me I see people using disposable paper coffee cups and I’m sure they believe they are environmentally safe. Though the plastic lid and cardboard sleeve can be recycled, the paper cup itself is not recyclable and, in addition, it takes excessive energy to produce the product.
The parts of my KeepCup are made in different places. The tempered soda lime glass cup is made in China, it is durable, but not unbreakable. The cork band is made by a small family business in Portugal from the cuts of wine corks. The lid is made in Australia. The parts are assembled and packaged in warehouses in Australia, the UK and the US. The final product is sent out worldwide. This research surprised me since I always just read on the bottom of the cup that it was made in Australia, and did not realize the other parts were made elsewhere. The variation of the production and shipment of these parts is also surprising and was more diverse than I thought. They do sell part replacements, which is not very common. So, if the lid is lost or the cup breaks, one does not need to replace the entire coffee cup. They also sell reusable straws, if you like your coffee iced. Additional good news is, that at the of its life cycle, the lid and cup are recyclable and the cork is compostable. It is easy to clean and requires no other maintenance. I have had my cup for 4 years and have not had to replace any parts. I believe it has more years to come.
On the KeepCup website,2 are a few case studies. One was about the University of Regensburg in Regensburg, Bavaria. The University has 450 employees including 210 professors and teaches and about 9750 students. (College of Charleston has about the same number of students, but about 2,000 faculty and staff.) A small group of students at the Bavarian University started a ‘KeepCup on Campus’ campaign as part of an initiative to reduce paper cup waste on campus to become a more sustainable University. They did outreach to students and explained to them how much waste each year was being produced on campus each year by disposable coffee cups. They found that 3,394,5560 cups were being sent to the land fill each year, which was 560 mature trees worth of carbon, 10.1 tons of plastic lids to the landfills, and that 3,557 gigajoules of energy was being consumed. Just for coffee! They worked with others in ordering the cup, making their own design and also worked with local cafes to offer discounts when students used their KeepCup.
I think the most direct impact of the KeepCup, is that is significantly decreases my carbon foot print. It would be wonderful if we could also do that here at the College of Charleston.
1 KeepCup is the world’s first barista standard reusable, recyclable cup that helps cut down the number of disposable cups entering the waste stream.
Reusable Coffee Cups | Glass, Brew, Cork | KeepCup US & Canada, us.keepcup.com/?country=United%2BStates.