A system in Freiburg aims to eliminate single-use coffee cups through the introduction of a reusable cup, accepted town-wide.
DISPOSABLE CUPS FLOOD THE PLANET
In Germany, approximately 2.8 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year. The production of the cups alone is resource-intensive: 43,000 trees, 1.5 billion litres of water, 320 million kWh of electricity, and 3,000 tonnes of crude oil are needed. Disposable cups for coffee are in use for an average of 13 minutes and then turn into garbage, resulting in 40,000 tonnes of residual waste nationwide. Twelve million empty cups accumulate in Freiburg every year through drinking take-away coffee, polluting the environment and reducing the city’s cleanliness.
TOWN-WIDE SCHEME FOR REUSABLE CUPS
At the end of November 2016, the Freiburg waste management company, ASF (Abfallwirtschaft und Stadtreinigung Freiburg), presented the FreiburgCup pilot project: durable cups offered for takeaway coffees in cafés and bakeries in the city centre. Customers who buy their takeaway coffees in a FreiburgCup pay a EUR 1 deposit and can return the empty cup in all participating shops. Each cup should withstand at least 400 washes. Wide media coverage at the beginning of the scheme suddenly made the cup the talk of town, and the popularity of the FreiburgCup has persisted ever since.
TWENTY THOUSAND CUPS IN CIRCULATION
The FreiburgCup prevents the disposal of a paper or plastic cup every time it is used. The participation of café operators in this campaign is voluntary, with the City of Freiburg paying for the introduction of the system, coordinated by the ASF. The pilot project has been well-received with enthusiastic interest from customers and restaurateurs alike. The FreiburgCup started in November 2016 with 14 participating businesses. Now, 90 companies have joined as partners, with around 20,000 cups already in circulation. Among them are standing-room cafés, bakeries, ice cream parlours, as well as the cafeterias located in the central university buildings and the main railway station.