Cafe invests in clever recyclable vegware cups

By Aura McMenamin

WITH the EU planning to phase out single-use plastics including coffee cups, straws and take away containers, one local business is already ahead of the curve.

On January 18, the European Commission in Brussels launched a plastics strategy that will see the banning of single-use plastics to reduce pollution and the threat that plastics have to marine life.

Bernard BennettDSC 8920

Under the Plastic Strategy, all plastic packaging placed on the EU market will be recyclable or reusable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the use of microplastics (‘microbeads), which are commonly found in face washes and cosmetics, will be restricted.

Bernard Bennett is co-director of the eco-friendly Tallaght cafe, the County Fare, where coffee cups are entirely recyclable.

“We’ve gone a step further from the start to make sure everything is disposable and keeps in line with the ethics of the County Fare, which is to make things recyclable,” Mr Bennett said.

He explained: “The cup we use is a vegware cup. It says on it that the paper is from a sustainable source and the lining is made from plants, not plastic.

“Sometimes the exterior part of the cup is recyclable but the lining is plastic. We decided to spend the extra and make sure the cup we’re using is biodegradable.

However, the cafe still uses plastic straws which fall under the plastic strategy’s definition of single-use plastics.

“I think we will have to invest in paper straws,” Mr Bennett said.

The EU-wide plastic strategy is in response to the news this month that China has banned imports of foreign recyclable material, which Ireland exported 95 per cent of its plastic waste to in 2016.

In November, Minister for the Environment Denis Naughton confirmed that he was considering introducing a levy on non-recyclable single-use cups.

Insomnia Coffee chairman Bobby Kerr is against the proposed levy. Speaking on High Noon on Newstalk last year, Kerr said that recycling centres in Ireland are currently unable to identify compostable cups from a non-recyclable cup.

He has also said that while Insomnia offers reusable “keep cups” for just under €10, encouraging customers to buy them with free coffees and extra loyalty points, only 2 per cent of customers use them.

Mr Bennett said he doesn’t necessarily agree with Kerr that biodegradable cups like his will go into landfill sites.

He told The Echo: “My view is that if you get our cup and go into your office, you have a recycling bin. If it’s at home, it goes into the recycling bin.

“A recycling plant surely should be able to distinguish one [recyclable cup] from another [non-recyclable cup].”

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