Can Coffee Shops Really Go Zero Waste?

Life, they say, happens in cycles. Before on-the-go coffee consumerism, people actually sat down and had coffee in ceramic cups. As industrialization took off, ceramic was soon replaced by plastic and paper cups for time-pressed workers. However, we’re regressing back to the time of the ceramic coffee cup and for the better. Globally a staggering 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year and most end up in the trash and ultimately landfills. So it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why coffee chains such as Starbucks have taken the lead in advocating for zero waste practices. But is it really possible for coffee shops to achieve zero waste? Let’s discuss.

1. Audit your establishment

The first thing you should probably do before you start implementing anything is to carry out an environmental audit of your café. You cannot fix the problems you’re not aware of. What constitutes waste in your business? From your trash, to your energy needs, and water consumption, each of these aspects needs to be audited. Once you’ve got numbers and data then and only then can you make the changes needed that will actually make a difference.

2. Look at the bigger picture

Before we even start talking about the cups in which the coffee is served in, we have to go to the very beginning. Where the coffee beans are sourced. Companies that are really keen to run sustainably need to audit every aspect of their current operations. Who are your current coffee suppliers? Where are they getting their coffee? Is it Fair Trade coffee? Make it a firm policy that you’ll only work with companies that sell Fair Trade coffee.

3. Put in place a committee

This is a long-term project and one that you should not attempt to run with all by yourself. Coffee shops that are successful with implementing zero waste policies are those that have teams that are especially dedicated to this task. These teams will make sure that your coffee shop is on track with its zero waste programs. They’ll assess progress on a regular basis and keep your staff accountable.

4. Deal with the easier issues first

Before you go off and install solar to run your coffee shop, there are easier and simpler practices you can adopt to reduce your waste. What this means is have short, medium and long-term goals for your waste efforts. You’ll not achieve zero waste in a month. So take it one day at a time. Select the opportunities that provide you with the chance to make the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. Things such as replacing your plastic straws with paper straws, offering in-house coffee cups, and use of reusable packaging.

5. Have SMART goals in place

When you’re starting out, trying to achieve a zero waste status as a business may seem like an impossible task. However, by setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals, it becomes possible. In addition, it’s key to have waste management performance indicators in place to monitor progress. The best part is you can get your customers to help you in your efforts. Ask them to sort out their trash before throwing it out by placing appropriate recyclables in store.

LokaBee your partner in green living

LokaBee is a leading online retailer of green products sourced sustainably. We help businesses and individuals get started on the journey to sustainable living. Are you keen to how else you can encourage a greener workplace? Or perhaps some of the benefits involved in becoming more environmentally conscious? We’ve got you covered.

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