Waste not, want not
I don’t like waste. I couldn’t possibly. That good old protestant ethic, “waste not, want not” was drummed into me so effectively as a child, that to this day I cannot leave anything uneaten on my plate without fear of locust plague or death. And as for disposable takeaway cups, well, they are merely string telephones waiting to happen.
But there are only so many string telephones that one household can take (ask my flatmates). Which is why I’m grateful that Peoples Coffee have taken another step up the environmental ladder and introduced a new composting system for their biodegradable takeaway cups at the Constable St store.
It’s all part of a new sustainable innovation by the Wellington City Council called “Kai to Compost.” The name says it all really. You pop your biodegradable takeaway cup in the compost bin at Peoples. A Kai to Compost truck picks it up (along with green waste from cafes and restaurants all over the city), and takes it out to the southern landfill at Owhiro Bay. But it isn’t dumped in the landfill like regular rubbish – instead it’s shredded and then heaped into long piles, called ‘windrows’. These windrows are turned with a forklift each week, and left to biodegrade for about 100 days, until they are safe and clean enough for a child to eat.
And then, voila! The green waste is mixed with bark and sand, and sold for use locally as compost. Your old coffee cup is now feeding golf courses, gardens and roadsides all over Wellington. Genius.
“This is not a silver bullet to waste problems, but it’s one more thing we can do” says Matt Lamason. “At the end of the day, plastic will always be plastic, whereas our biodegradable cups will degrade back into organic compounds.”
A similar system in Christchurch was composting up to 300 tonnes (that’s 300 000 kgs) of green waste, per day prior to the earthquake (which has sadly put the system on hold).
“Kai to Compost has a huge capacity for green waste. It’s currently only operating at about 10% capacity in Wellington. The key is getting our biodegradable cups into the correct waste stream.”
That means putting it into the right bin! You can find one now at the Constable St store. Go on, make the effort. If only to fend off that locust plague…
So, string telephones aside – what would you normally do with your biodegradable cups and lids? Do you compost your cups at home? Do you have any other creative solutions for reusing your biodegradable cups? Tell us here!