In Minneapolis, approximately 50 billion coffee cups end up in landfills every year in the United States. Sadly, most paper cups are not recyclable. However, a new technology has emerged that allows for the creation of compostable paperboard cups made from raw materials that meet forest management standards and can withstand boiling water.
When Five Watt Coffee first opened almost ten years ago, there were very few sustainable options for their to-go coffee cups. Owner Lee Carter recalls, “When we first started looking at the product, there were very few compostable partners and it was a very expensive start.” However, consumer demand for sustainable products has since increased. Lucas Waringa, a resident of Minneapolis, recognizes the importance of choosing products with less negative impact, stating, “These companies are making products that create waste, and we can’t afford not to consume them.”
Leaders are also taking notice of the sustainability movement. Starting in 2020, Hennepin County businesses that produce over one ton of trash each week will be required to compost and recycle their food waste. The local government has implemented various programs to incentivize composting among residents and businesses alike.
Five Watt Coffee has taken a step towards sustainability by using plant-based treeless bamboo to make their coffee cups. Regular disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled due to their plastic coating, which makes them harmful to the environment. However, Carter currently still uses plastic cups for cold drinks as the compostable ones he has tried were too fragile. He eagerly awaits further advancements in compostable cup technology.
The benefits of compostable products are undeniable. They reduce reliance on non-renewable resources and decrease the amount of food waste going to landfills. Additionally, they contribute to the production of nutrient-rich compost. A report from the 2023 Business of Sustainability Index reveals that 66% of all U.S. consumers prefer compostable products and are willing to pay more for them. This number increases to 80% among adults under 34 years old.
Carter is proud to contribute to a better planet, one cup at a time. He believes it is important to do the right thing not just on a business level, but on a human level as well. In addition to using compostable cups, Five Watt Coffee roasts their coffee with machines that use 80% less energy and emit fewer emissions than traditional roasters. Carter also hopes to introduce on-site composting at their stores in the future. By implementing sustainable practices, Five Watt Coffee is committed to making a positive impact on the environment.