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Coffee cups make up 20 per cent of waste at Langara College

Convenience of single-use coffee cups creates a large amount of waste on campus

Coffee waste mixed with regular waste at Langara College. Photo by Natalia Buendia Calvillo
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Reported by Natalia Buendia Calvillo

While coffee cups are generally low cost for businesses and consumers, convenience comes with a high cost on the environment.

Coffee cups comprise 20 per cent of the total waste produced at Langara College. In 2016, Langara launched a think green campaign that focuses on reducing waste on campus. Engagement among students has increased since the implementation of the campaign, according to Marco Buktaw, the coordinator of the Green Team volunteer program.

Some students are reducing their coffee waste by bringing in their own reusable mug. Photo by Natalia Buendia Calvillo

“Coffee cup waste is the plight of all schools and being creatures of habit, it’s difficult to convince current students to sacrifice a few seconds,” Buktaw said.

Buktaw has a team of 10 to 15 students whose job is to re-evaluate how recyclables are disposed at big events such as Langara’s Welcome Week and Orientation Week for international students.

Convenience drives consumers to single use items

A June 2017 report by Vancouver City Council mentions there is an increasing trend towards single use items that is driven by convenience, lack of free time, marketing and food and health safety.

The administrative report stated that in Vancouver alone, an estimated 2.6 million paper cups are thrown away as garbage each week. Also, disposable cups, lids and sleeves make up 22 per cent of large litter items and are the most common.

Langara students thinking about bringing their own mug

A first year health and sciences student at Langara, Naudeep Kaur, is already on board with bringing her own mug.

“I do not drink coffee everyday but when I do I bring my mug,” Kaur said. “[It’s] more environmentally friendly.”

Coffee drinkers on campus use disposable cups more than personal mugs because it is more convenient, according to Sumit Dhull, Langara (something something) student.

“I think it would be more environmentally friendly to bring your own mug, but disposables may be good if you don’t drink coffee every day,” Dhull said.

Buktaw, who is currently doing a co-op program, will continue to fight towards sustainability and waste reduction even after his co-op term is finished.

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