Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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won't do any harm in the trash. Won't they just break down in the landfi ll? "If organic materials are landfi lled instead of composted, the loss is twofold," explains Julia. "First, we don't get to use the nutri- ents that the compost could offer, thus effectively ending its life cycle. Secondly, as organic material breaks down in landfi lls, anaerobic bacteria produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than CO 2 . Although some landfi lls have methods of collecting methane gas, the overall impact of these methods is still quite small and ineffective." You might think that creating a composting program is more work (and more messy!) than a recycling program. However, shop owners who have implemented a program in their own cafés will overwhelm- ingly tell you how easy and rewarding it was to create. As Daniel of D Squared Java points out, "There is just so much waste, in coffee shops in particular, that can easily be composted without changing anything except where your waste goes." The facts about compostable and biodegradable cups There are plenty of cups and lids that are marketed as compostable, but unfortunately many brands are currently not accepted at com- posting facilities; they either take too long to break down, or they add no nutritional value to the composting process. Jayne Merner Senecal of Earth Care Farm in Charlestown, R.I., notes that even when certain brands do break down quickly, they're usually not accepted by organic farms because they're considered semisynthetic products. The best thing you can do is talk to the compost facilities in your area to fi nd out what they accept, and buy your products accordingly. Also, don't rule out paper cups altogether. Jayne adds that her com- posting facility does take paper cups as long as the lining is wax—but always check with your local facility fi rst. This highlights the kind of clunky, teenage stage the United States is in when it comes to large-scale composting. Jayne believes that "food scrap composting is going up, but the infrastructure isn't there yet." Through a combination of progressive legislation and consumer interest, the demand for composting is growing. As the infrastructure evolves, facilities are poised to process more compostable products when they enter the market. So if you currently use compostable or recyclable cups, don't be discouraged. In fact, your continued efforts are helping the cause. However, it's always important that we're mindful of the Zero Waste Hierarchy and prioritize reducing and reusing fi rst and foremost. Going forward The reason we thought this article was so important to write was because it doesn't necessarily take more work or money to implement these changes in your shop. In fact, implementing zero-waste practic- es can actually save you money and elevate the status of your business within your community. You'll fi nd that many compostable or recycla- ble products are no more expensive than regular ones, and some areas offer free composting services or tax breaks for green incentives. It's exciting to think that so much positive change can come about with such minimal effort. By working together in our tight-knit cof- fee community, we can feel good knowing that we're not only helping ourselves and our industry, but also everyone else with whom we share this world. 105

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