Lid-dle Steps

Lid-dle Steps

27 May, 2016
Pacific Coffee
Coffee lid recycling programme an encouraging move in the right direction
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Nothing beats starting a typical weekday with a piping, aromatic cup of coffee, as is the ritual for many Hong Kong urbanites.  And now, it can be a little bit less impactful on the environment.
 
Pacific Coffee started The Coffee Lid Recycling Program, in partnership with Ocean Recovery Alliance (ORA), a Hong Kong-based charity, to encourage its customers to return their coffee lids for recycling, and in return get a free upgrade on the next beverage purchase. The clean coffee lids are transferred to ORA to be recycled.
 
Initiated in 2015, Pacific Coffee has now extended this initiative from the original 5 coffeehouses to 30 locations.
 
The [rogramme is a simple way to engage people in thinking about waste reduction in their daily lives, here in Hong Kong, where recycling is still relatively underdeveloped and our beautiful beaches, hiking trails and country parks and, of course, landfills are piling up with plastic and other waste products.
 
Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance stresses the importance of grassroots recycling programs and other initiatives, which are not government-run; he believes that tackling the plastic waste issue is most effective when you work from the ground up. “Once you have some of that with some publicity, people feel good about it, companies think ‘customers are more interested in my product so now we can start more of that’, and then the government might say ‘Oh, all those things are working, we could support that more, on a bigger scale.’” He continues, “Companies need to take some responsibility – design new packaging, develop waste, recycling programs, better bring-back programs, and so on – and when that is done, then people will start to think ‘Oh, we can do that too, and we’ll support that company.’”
 
Programmes like this hopefully not just address a single plastic waste issue (the lids), but stimulate people’s thoughts on their waste habits… and perhaps even consider the volume we produce, which fills our landfills or ends up in nature, harming ecosystems and even human health.
 
A report published in the journal Science states that the world has increased its plastic production by 620% since 1974. And since plastic takes up to hundreds to thousands of years to biodegrade, the vast majority of plastic that has been produced is still on the planet. Disposable plastic products, such as those millions of coffee cup lids – choke, harm, and leach toxins long after their brief intended use.
 
The Coffee Lid Recycling Program invites us to see a coffee cup lid as more than a disposal convenience; it’s a chance to make a responsible choice (even better, of course: ask for no lid at all!)… and hopefully, it also inspires us to look at every manufactured product  beyond the function it serves in the moment, and at how our actions are more significant than we think.
 
Pacific Coffee is a big, mainstream company with a significant outreach, and hopefully can inspire other companies to follow suit and take small (and big) steps toward a cleaner environment.

By: Cynthia Chung
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