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Trending: Public, Private Sector Unveil Strategies to Eliminate To-Go Beverage Waste

Loliware has launched a line of biodegradable, seaweed-based straws. | Image credit: Loliware

Single-serve beverage waste is on the fast-track to obsolescence as startups, multinationals and local governments unveil strategies to keep cups, straws and plastic bottles out of landfill.

Disposable coffee cups create a considerable amount of waste each year, but formulating beverage containers with compostable or recyclable materials isn’t the only way to keep them from entering into landfill. The German city of Freiburg, for example, has developed a convenient and sustainable solution that doesn’t require consumers to constantly keep a reusable mug on hand.

The city has launched the Freiburg Cup program, which allows consumers to pay €1 for a plastic to-go cup that can be returned to around 100 different downtown locations. Once returned, the cups — all of which are made in southern Germany — are disinfected and reused. Each cup can be reused up to 400 times. Consumers can easily identify participating stores by a green sticker displayed in their shop window.

Though only a year old, the program has already been deemed a success and other cities in Germany have expressed interest in implementing the program, as well.

Meanwhile, startup Loliware — which in 2015 made waves with its "biodegredible" (biodegradable + edible) cups — is expanding its line of colorful drinkware to include a 100 percent plastic-free, hyper-compostable, marine-degradable, seaweed-based straw.

Be Straw Free estimates that half-a-billion straws are used in the US every day, yet they are rarely, if ever, recycled. Anti-straw campaigns are on the rise and a number of museums, aquariums, amusement parks and restaurants around the country have already rolled out bans or policies to eliminate the use of straws.

Loliware’s new patent-pending product offers a viable solution to reducing plastic straw waste because of its compostable nature, while allowing businesses to continue catering to consumer demand for straws.

According to Loliware’s Kickstarter campaign, the Lolistraw feels just like a conventional plastic straw, lasts up to 24 hours in a beverage and biodegrades within 60 days of being composted. The straws come in a range of different colors and flavors, including rose, mango, yuzu charcoal and vanilla.

Loliware is aiming to raise $30,000 in funding to launch the new product. So far, the startup has raised just over $12,000. The Kickstarter campaign runs until January 10, 2018.

Meanwhile, on the corporate front — in a recent interview with edie.net, Simon Redfern, VP of Corporate Affairs for Starbucks, shared how the coffee giant is expanding its efforts to tackle beverage container waste.

In addition to rolling out its own £1 reusable cup and offering a discount on drinks for customers who bring their own mugs, Starbucks has been collaborating with industry competitors to improve recycling infrastructure. In October, it was one of 14 companies to enter into an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), which will see ACE UK recycling banks in 97 local authorities across the UK begin accepting paper cups for recycling. Starbucks is also working with the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group Paper Cups Manifesto to create even more opportunities for the collection and recycling of paper cups.

According to Redfern, coffee cups aren’t the only problem. Next steps for the company include finding solutions for plastic water bottles, one of which include partnering with Refill, an app that lets the public know where they can refill their reusable water bottles for free. The app is currently active in Bristol, but the company hopes to add all of its locations to Refill by early 2018.

“These are really easy wins for us where we can make a big material difference to the amount of plastic that people are using,” Redfern told edie. “Ultimately, we believe in providing choice for customers and the way they consume their beverage.” 

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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