Deposits for Disposable Cups Experiment Highlights Benefits of Binning and Need for a Coffee Cup Revolution

Coffee Cup Revolution from Metro Vancouver on Vimeo.

In just a few hours, crews collect over 30,000 paper cups  —  to test the viability of a deposit on disposable cups in our region. See how the work of binners keeps our streets clean and provides vital information on disposable cup recycling options.

Exchanging Cups for Cash

It is 8:30 in the morning, and a lineup stretches across Victory Square in Downtown Vancouver. But these Downtown Eastside residents aren’t here for a handout. They’re here to hand in single use paper coffee cups, in exchange for cash.

The Benefits of Binning

It’s a one day event called the Coffee Cup Revolution, put on by the Binners’ Project – an organization dedicated to educating the public about the good work that binners do – collecting recyclable items in exchange for cash, thereby keeping them out of the landfill.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.22.06 PM“Paper products like these cups are a nuisance and usually before the Coffee Cup Revolution starts you’ll see them all over the street,” says event participant Nicholas Varga. “The garbage cans are stuffed with them especially around fast food outlets.”

Thousands of Cups Create Litter and Clog Landfill

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.33.30 PMThe event brings attention to the thousands upon thousands of single use coffee cups that litter our city and clog up our landfills.

Raising Awareness of Waste Issue

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.28.24 PM“The problem with coffee cups is they’re so much of them and they aren’t being readily recycled,” explains Jason Dault, the operations manager for Regional Recycling. “You see them everywhere, you see them in the alleyways, you see them in the garbage cans, you see them tossed away on the ground. Today with the Coffee Cup Revolution (we are) bringing an awareness to, hey coffee cups are a bit of a problem, when it comes to the collection of them, we need to get them out of the waste stream.”

Disposable Deposit Experiment

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.38.56 PMEach cup that’s handed in earns a payback of 5 cents, to a maximum of 20 dollars a person. It’s an experiment of sorts – to see what would happen if a 5 cent deposit were added to disposable paper cups. While collection is underway, a group of experts brainstorms in a roundtable discussion. The idea gets a general thumbs up.

“I think a deposit on coffee cups would benefit everybody in BC,” says Dault.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.52.17 PMPutting the Price in Perspective

Binners’ Project participant Mike Leland makes an interesting point, “I’m really big on the deposit and I think if you’re paying $4 for a cup of coffee another nickel is nothing.”

“I think the one thing we agreed on moving forward is that more people need to come to the table,” says City of Vancouver Green Events Coordinator Anne Cooper.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 3.08.40 PM “Discussions have to include different stakeholders like the people who are creating the coffee cups that are producing them. The conversation needs to be expanded just a little bit.”

Changing The Landscape

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 3.19.51 PMMore than 30 thousand cups are handed in, in just a few hours. Organizers believe monetizing coffee cups would change the landscape.

“Our streets would be cleaner,” says Anna Godefroy, Project Director for The Binners’ Project. “You wouldn’t see the city bins completely full and garbage around. I don’t think you would see any of that.

By day’s end the participating binners were richer by a total of more than $1500, and the Downtown Eastside was a much cleaner place.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 3.09.59 PM

Want to learn more about the work being done to reduce waste in our region and around the world? There’s still time to register for the 2015 Zero Waste Conference on Oct. 29, 2015. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to benefit from a full day of compelling discussion on zero waste and the circular economy. We’ll showcase leaders from a broad range of backgrounds, offering their perspectives, tackling vital issues, and making zero waste principles a top-of-mind priority for industry, government, and consumers.

Register for Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Conference

Thursday, October 29, 2015, Vancouver Convention Centre East

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