Vancouver may be one step closer to a bylaw to prevent paper cups from piling up in landfills.

A Vision Vancouver councillor is trying to solve the issue, whether it be with a tax on paper cups, or with a bylaw to have recycling bins prominently inside coffee shops. Toronto is considering a tax, starting December 1st, on disposable cups to encourage customers to bring their own mugs. While Vancouver has no green tax in the works, people are pushing for a Green change.

Starbucks alone uses more than 1.5 billion cups per year, and the plastic lining of the cups prevents them from being recyclable (in most cases). And while 10% of the cups are made from recycled material (saving 5 million pounds of tree fiber), well, that’s just not really good enough.

Personally, there are a lot of little changes I’d like to see Vancouver coffee shops adopt - changes that have a big impact overall:

  • Have paper cups that can be recycled
  • Have a sugar dispenser, instead of sugar packets
  • Have spoons, instead of wooden stir sticks (although many are compostable, they are still wasteful)
  • Offer a discount for your own travel mug (most do)
  • Teach recycling - have a sign that lists what materials can be recycled near your bin (Tim Horton’s recently started this as a pilot project)
  • Choosing biodegradable coffee cup lids

In addition, for those companies who want to go the extra mile to becoming more environmentally friendly, these options can help:

  • Recycling used coffee grinds, or offering them free to customers for gardening
  • Use biodegradable products for take-out packaging
  • Going green in other ways - in materials bought, lighting used, etc

If you are taking steps in your cafe to be green, let your customers know. Giving them the option is just one more reason to shop with you, and educating them goes a long way toward creating positive recycling habits.

If you own a cafe in Vancouver, or work at one, and have been taking steps to go Green, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line or leave a comment here.