Coffee cups and carrier bags are everyday items which too often end up in landfill. Thankfully innovators are making great strides in developing alternative eco-friendly versions.
A study in Germany, for example, has shown that carrier bags made with bioplastics, produced by Italian company Novamont, are completely biodegradable when processed in German anaerobic digestion facilities.
While Southampton firm, Biome Bioplastics, is making takeaway coffee cups made from plant-based materials.
“The shocking amount of landfill waste shows the urgent need for big brands to accelerate work in new, sustainable materials such as bioplastics,” said Biome Bioplastics CEO Paul Mines. “For such a simple product, disposing of a single coffee cup is a very complex problem. Coffee drinkers are acting in good faith when they see recycling logos on their takeaway coffees but most cups are lined with oil-based plastic and the lids made of polystyrene making recycling impossible, even when placed in the right bin.
“We need to also question how much fossil fuels go into coffee cups, given the reliance on petroleum-based plastic. When 2.5 billion takeaway cups are thrown away each year, and less than 1% are recycled, each cup adds up.”
He added: “Our solution is making biopolymers that can be made into fully biodegradable coffee cup and lid combinations. The result being a bio-based takeaway cup disposable either in a paper recycling stream or food waste stream.
“In appropriate composting conditions our cups and lids will disappear to carbon dioxide and water within three months.”