The ongoing search for an environmentally sustainable solution to single-use coffee cups

Hill, Colin (2021) The ongoing search for an environmentally sustainable solution to single-use coffee cups. In: STS Graz 2021, 2021-05-032021-05-05, Online.

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In the UK, coffee shops have spawned into many high streets offering a great mix of coffee options. One popular option is to ‘take-away’ the coffee drink, with most retailers offering cups containing polyethylene (plastic) liners tightly bonded to the paper cups to make them waterproof. These cups need to be recycled at specialist facilities and because of the poor infrastructure, 99% are sent to general waste, ending up in landfill or within incineration facilities resulting in pollution, contamination and a general degradation on the environment. Within the single-use cup industry, innovators are creating solutions that are edible, recyclable (by splitting the two main elements), or use-and-reuse solutions. However, these ideas have not been adopted into mainstream society by businesses or people, and the mobilisation to find a more sustained solution continues across many societies as the realisation of the undisciplined nature of plastic become apparent. I will argue that work is needed to create a roadmap to a circular solution for generating a next generation of plastics, critically evaluating the design, creation and implementation of safer and more sustainable plastic material use in resource-combined products (such as the single-use coffee cup). I will explore how scientists, researchers and businesses can use organisational theories to help inform of more positive roadmaps that have a less negative impact on the planet. As I am working alongside a Chemist in searching for a more sustained solution, I will show how technology development in the sciences can also offer opportunities to influence human behaviours, infrastructures and disciplining plastic waste into a valued resource that serves a longer purpose. The presentation will argue for widespread and sustained interest in environmental preservation by encouraging circular solutions for more sustained plastics, offering significant opportunities for reducing environmental impacts, generating new economic growth and societal benefits.

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Contribution to Conference (Paper)
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STS Graz 2021
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Deposited On:
31 Jan 2022 15:35
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 14:51