The Square Mile Challenge and sustainability at the London Coffee Festival

Square Mile Challenge London Coffee CupsThe #SquareMileChallenge is underway in the city of London. Led by the environmental charity Hubbub in partnership with the City of London Corporation, Network Rail and Simply Cups,  the scheme aims to recycle five million disposable coffee cups in an effort to reduce the amount of coffee cups that end up in landfill. It has been estimated that around 7 million coffee cups are thrown away each day and that less than 1 % of these are recycled. Over 100 retailers and 30 organisations are providing recycling facilities. If you’re in London look out for the bright yellow coffee cup shaped recycling bins, or the sticker in the window of retailers recycling cups.

Square Mile Challenge London Coffee Cups

An artistic display of coffee cups outside the Royal Exchange in London.

The issue of coffee cup sustainability had a strong presence at the London Coffee Festival this year too.

London Coffee Festival

There were multiple coffee cup recycling points located around the festival – given the amount of sample coffee cups used in the festival these are likely to be very well used facilities. In addition to companies such as LondonBioPackaging which had a variety of recycled, recyclable and compostable packaging on display, there were also a range of reusable coffee cups on offer too.

There was a good range of KeepCup cups on offer, not only on the KeepCup stand but branded ones on offer at various coffee roaster brands from Grumpy Mule Coffee to The Roasting Party.

Keep Cup London Coffee Festival

There was also a nice display from Ecoffee cup, reusble cups that were made from bamboo fibre, a nice alternative to the plastic and ceramic ones I’ve seen. While the efforts to recyle more disposable coffee cups will undoubtedly have an impact on the amount that end up in landfill, this means that a lot of energy and resources are having to be used to create, transport and recycle them.

Ecoffee Cup London Coffee Festival

In the long term, as I have argued before, increased use of reusable coffee cups is a more sustainable solution – and both KeepCup and Ecoffee Cup highlight this. In the promotional material from EcffeeCup there is a piece which invites retailers, cafes and coffee consumers to join the campaign to fight single use coffee cups – #stopthe100billion (the estimated number of disposable coffee cups that end up in landfill each year) – highlighting that small changes can have a big impact.

There was even jewellery on display made from recycled coffee designed by Rosalie McMillan.

Recycled coffee jewellery

Many coffee businesses talked to me about the importance of sustainability in the coffee industry – North Star Roasters, a coffee roaster from Leeds even had some of their packaging made from recycled coffee cup fibre.

north star roaster London Coffee Festival

GreenCup Roasters and Recyclers also sought to showcase how their business was had reduced environmental impact from their activities related to the circular economy, in recycling coffee grounds, creating soil nourisher, to looking for innovative ways to make the coffee industry more sustainable.

GreenCup Coffee Recyclers London Coffee Festival

Whether you’re going out for coffee today, or heading to the London Coffee Festival, consider getting a resuable cup, and if you’re wandering around London and are using a disposable cup, hang on to it until you can place it in one of the recycling points. As Ecoffee cup said – small changes can have a big impact.

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