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by Elena Schöber

A foggy Monday morning in November. Leaving your comfortable warm duvet behind is terrible enough. Then a quick shower and off you go – whoa, how cold it is outside! You need to get yourself a hot cup of coffee to warm up. Understandable!

But what about the paper cup and the plastic lid? It gets carelessly thrown away.

According to the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Care) 2.8 billion coffee cups are used in Germany per year. That counts down to 7.6 million cups per Day, 320.000 per hour. Converted, every German uses 34 of those cups a year. A remarkable number and the reason for a lot of garbage. 40.000 tons of garbage can be traced back to take-away cups.

But the problem is not the garbage alone. The production process for those cups swallows tons of resources every year. To meet the needs 43.000 trees are chopped down each year which are 64.000 tons of wood. Additionally, the manufacturing of the paper cups takes up a huge amount of water, round about 1.5 billion litres.

And we still didn’t think about the lids. Those are made out of polystyrol. The fabrication is very costly and produces 111.000 tons of CO2-emissions. Hello Global Warming! I’d say.

El Rojito, a fairtrade coffee distributor from Hamburg created the solution: a multi-way cup with a return deposit system. REFILL IT! launches on 1st Nov. El Rojito already convinced 10 cafés in Hamburg to take part. More are definitely soon to come.

The multi-way cups are made of 100% renewable raw materials. A major part is ligin (“tree juice”), a waste product of the paper industry – upcycling on the highest level!

And how does that return deposit system work? Easy as. You borrow a cup and pay a deposit of 1,50€ in one of the participating cafés. For hygienic reasons, you need to purchase the mouthpiece and the red felt band – sounds reasonable.

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy your coffee.

Afterwards you can either keep the cup, get it refilled or return it. Simply, in every participating café. The participating partners don’t have to take care of the logistics. El Rojito replaces outworn cups for them. With this little effort for the destributors, the project should grow to be a great success.

We love the project and hope it will launch in Vienna soon.

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