If you have been following along on the @RubbishWalksCPM Twitter feed recently, you’ll notice that I’ve been posting photos of Metro articles dealing with waste. I find it great that the subject is getting some attention, and it helps keep me awake on the early morning commute!
The main issue that caught my eye last week was that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste campaign was turning the spotlight on disposable coffee cups. Billions end up in landfills, and they are certainly an item that is commonly found as litter. One solution I’ve seen recently is coffee cups embedded with flower seeds; while I like the idea in theory, I do wonder if it would actually have the knock-on effect of encouraging people to litter more.
Something else that has flashed across the news is the threat of a “coffee cup tax”, following the recently announced tax on sugary drinks and last year’s introduction of a plastic bag fee. As I wrote regarding the latter, simply using the word “tax” is almost a guarantee that you will have problems with getting buy-in from the public. To me, this feels like a knee-jerk reaction. Top-down approaches like this have the very real potential of backfiring by creating a negative aura around the subject — in this case, waste reduction. However, the inverse of this, encouraging the re-use of cups by offering a discount, has the potential to actually encourage behaviourial change. This is exactly what Starbucks has announced they are doing on a trial basis, with 50p off if a cup is re-used. This seems far more likely to foster positive changes.
Now this may all be a moot point as I saw an article over the weekend that said there were no plans in place for such a cup charge. Yet a dialogue has been started and I raise my own mug of tea in the hopes that ALL disposable cups will be re-thought so that sights like this become a thing of the past.