Environmental Management

Reduce Reuse Refill!

August 5, 2015 by 1 Comment | Category Waste

On 10th August KeepCups will be on sale at all Sodexo catering outlets within the Scottish Government estate. This is an initiative aimed at reducing waste from our staff restaurants.

Nearly 1 million hot drinks are sold at Scottish Government sites each year, the vast majority of which are currently served in single-use cups. If you laid these cups end-to-end they would stretch nearly 87 miles, ten times the length of Edinburgh’s tram line! Although we use compostable Vegware cups, they still need to be transported and sorted. We dispose of 13 tonnes of single-use cups per year at an approximate cost of £1,700, money which could be far better spent on other things. By using reusable cups we will save money on waste disposal and reduce our carbon footprint as an organisation.

The cups will be £4 for the first week (£5 thereafter) and are barista standard 16oz. They can be used in all our buildings for a small or medium hot drink. Every time a staff member uses their KeepCup, they will get 12p off the price of a Costa hot drink or 10p off a tea or coffee from the self-service machines. The average Scottish Government employee could save £15 over the course of a year, even after buying their KeepCup. The cups are dishwasher safe and available in a choice of five bright colours.

Using a reusable cup means becoming part of a wider movement away from a throwaway culture in favour of something more sustainable. 500 billion disposable cups are manufactured around the world every year, which amounts to 75 disposable cups for every person on the planet. 1 million disposable cups end up in landfill every minute and they can stay in landfill for up to 50 years before breaking down. As an organisation we look to reduce our share of this incredible amount of waste.

Part of the reason we chose KeepCup is because of their sustainable ethos. Their cups are made with single component materials such as polypropylene, meaning they are recyclable at end of life. Also, the resources required to manufacture plastic are relatively low. This means you only have to use a KeepCup 15 times to break even with paper cups in terms of energy manufacture and use. All the manufacturers we examined looked to promote reusing in order to reduce waste, but KeepCup were the most eco-friendly in terms of production and eventual disposal.

It is estimated that since KeepCup was established in 2009, KeepCup users have diverted 3.5 billion cups from landfill in what the organisation calls a ‘Reuse Revolution’. This shows that seemingly small individual acts can add up to a big difference.

Our reusable mug scheme is the latest in a number of measures to reduce waste. We have sorting and recycling measures in place which mean that less than 2% of the waste we generate as an organisation ends up in landfill. Food waste and Vegware packaging from our staff restaurants is composted, along with all the coffee grounds we use. In addition to this, staff can get a bag of used coffee grounds from our restaurants in return for a donation to The Lifeboat Fund. Coffee grounds have many uses, including as a scouring agent for scrubbing pots and pans, a repellent for ants, snails and slugs, or composting to use as a nitrogen-rich fertiliser for plants.


  • Sarah Chandler says:

    Very interesting post! It is great that you decided on working and offering those reusable cups. They are a great solution to stop using plastic ones. I believe that the people will be very interested in this idea and will do their best to contribute for reducing waste!

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