The War on Convenience

Collectively fighting the war on waste at every level: consumer, business, and government

We’re all collectively fighting the war on waste at every level: consumer, business, and government. But perhaps there’s a different war we should be fighting? The war on convenience.

With floods in Queensland, devastating droughts in New South Wales and scorching temperatures in South Australia it’s easy to feel down about the (dire) state of the environment. But change is happening on a global and local scale from reusable bags being enforced at supermarkets to new innovations bringing more sustainable products to market.

Last year, Allpress Espresso released a new report focusing on the war on convenience. Our sustainability director, Richard Fine, contributing a piece on the future of single-use packaging — the ultimate modern (and often legally required) convenience.

The future of single-use

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. What are your thoughts on the coffee cup’s role in this issue?

The media frenzy around coffee cups has resulted in increased awareness regarding the environmental impact of single-use packaging and that the use of plastic for foodservice disposables is neither practical nor sustainable.

Not only is their misinformation, but there is also an attempt by some to mislead by advertising and promoting proprietary technologies exclusive to specific cup manufacturers and suppliers.

However, in order for a solution to be effective, it must be available and accessible to all. Compostable and composting infrastructure is this solution.

Have you felt threatened with coffee cups becoming the poster child for the war on waste?

As much as it has been demonised recently in the media, the paper cup has been instrumental in developing and growing the coffee industry.

We encourage consumers to choose reusables whenever possible, but there will always be a need for single-use foodservice packaging providing the consumer with the option for an impulse food and beverage purchase when away from home. And it is possible to provide a sustainable solution to the problem.

We have welcomed the media and consumer focus regarding the non-recyclability of paper cups as it has led to an increase in awareness of the problem and in turn stimulated debate in various industry bodies and government departments and motivated brand owners, cafés, raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers and distributors to find solutions to the problem.

We believe the future of single-use disposable foodservice packaging is compostable. Using compostable materials simplifies the waste collection and diversion of food scraps and packaging material from landfill.

A combination of redesign and investment in compost infrastructure is required to make progress in reducing the number of cups going to landfill.

Several elements need to be in place to make wider use of compostable plastics beneficial. These include the development of adequate infrastructure to handle such materials (e.g. separate collection of organics, composting or anaerobic digestion facilities) – infrastructure which is emerging rapidly in Australia and New Zealand.

This article was written by Richard Fine, Founder and Sustainability Director at BioPak, and first published by Allpress Espresso.

Read the full article, including contributions from other industry experts on the Allpress Espresso website.