We are going to be pretty frank and honest with you here and explain our position on single use plastic and what we are doing about it in our cafes.
Whichever way you look at it, single use plastic is bad. Very, very bad. Yet we’ve all managed to get this far without thinking that hard about what actually happens to it when we throw it away. For us, it’s the plastic in the oceans which really resonates with us and has made us want to do better. Not only is it killing wildlife but after breaking down into tiny fragments it makes its way back into our own food chain as well. We are all walking around with some level of micro plastic inside us, and that is a scary thought.
Biodegradable, compostable, or none of the above?
Let’s talk about coffee cups. Bottom line, they are not recyclable. They are lined with a thin film of plastic that makes them impossible to recycle.
Secondly, compostable or biodegradable coffee cups are a hoax. They are not an apple core or banana skin. They will not simply break down without a great deal of heat. Companies that are peddling their biodegradable coffee cups are fooling themselves because they are only biodegradable or compostable if they end up in the right processing facility. At this current point in time London isn’t set up with that many of these types of facilities (we don’t think!) Now we aren’t experts on this, and we are tying hard to educate ourselves as much as we can about all of it, but reports are showing that a large percentage of our recycling matter is actually ending up in landfill because we are trying to recycle the wrong things.
If those biodegradable or compostable cups don’t actually biodegrade then what is the point in using them. That compostable cup or cutlery will not melt away if it ends up in the ocean, it still needs the proper processing plant and facilities. So we have adapted our thinking based on this and come up with the following measures:
We are transitioning to wooden take-away cutlery.
We are bringing in paper straws.
Our eat-in cutlery will all be stainless steel.
We are part of the reverse vending scheme in Canary Wharf (This is a system whereby you put a plastic bottle into the machine to recycle it and get a voucher for some money off your next purchase at CPRESS).
Coffee cups are a harder task. There are no take away coffee cups that don’t use plastic so the best solution is to use a reusable one, which is a mentality that we will be encouraging our customers to take on. We will soon be selling a standard one at cost price, making it affordable and easy for our customers to get themselves a reusable cup, and we have also developed a super sleek and design focused CPRESS branded cup in collaboration with Frank Green. Our CPRESS branded reusable coffee cups are launching soon and we are really looking forward to rolling these out in our stores. Regarding the single use coffee cups, we are now sourcing these from within the UK because whilst we can’t avoid having them, we can avoid the unnecessary air miles needed to import them from abroad.
We also have organic cotton tote bags for sale in store for 99p. The reason we don’t use paper bags is because they break when our customers buy more than a couple of juices, which they often do, plus the condensation from the cold juice bottles speeds up this process even further. We make no margin on these bags, we just really want to try and stay away from single use plastic bags. At the moment we are finishing our stock of plastic bags and by 2019 we will be 100% plastic bag free.
The juice bottles are quite a different question. If our bottles end up in the ocean then that’s bad, if they end up in landfill that’s better, and if they get recycled that’s great.
We sell our juice in plastic because of:
Of course we’ve looked into glass bottles but for a company our size it just isn’t practicable. Glass bottles are extremely time consuming and energy wasting to clean – lipstick is actually very tough to remove. Moreover, you can only clean them a certain amount of times before they get stained irrevocably. They’re heavy, they break, and 4 or 5 juices at a time in heavy glass bottles are hard for our customers to carry around.
We have also been looking more into pasteurisation. There is increasing pressure on juice brands from the Government to pasteurise their products and in order to do this without heating them, which we would never do as it completely ruins the nutritional integrity of the juice, you need to use a plastic bottle. Pasteurisation in glass requires heat, it’s as simple as that.
So as you can see there are a lot of moving parts, and we are trying our best to not just jump on the sustainability bandwagon with our eyes closed. We are questioning everything and using what knowledge we have to make the best decisions we can make.