Tag Archives: #DemandZeroWaste

The Brewing Problem of the “To Go” Coffee Cup

Coffee is the most common beverage after water for adults. Coffee is the most popular hot beverage and the number one food service beverage in Canada. 14 billion cups of coffee are consumed in Canada every year, and 35% of coffee is consumed “to go”.

Most of the “to go” coffee is being served in single-use cups. The impact of these cups causes wide-spread problems in both urban and rural communities. Disposable cups are becoming a major pollution hazard.

Disposable cups, lids and other coffee related products make up a significant amount of the items picked up annually in The Great Shoreline Cleanup Campaign

The City of Vancouver has recently directed staff to investigate potential regulatory options  to reduce the amount of coffee cup litter

A huge problem with “to go” is where the coffee cup is travelling and what we do with it when we no longer want it.

In British Columbia both foam and plastic coated paper coated coffee cups are recycled in a provincial EPR program for packaging ; this is a residential recycling program that brand owner’s like Tim Horton’s contribute to as a producer of packaging but the problem is the discarded cup does not travel to the consumer’s home to be placed in the recycling, instead it will be discarded when the coffee is either finished or not wanted anymore.

The average number of steps someone will carry garbage is twelve paces. Unfortunately many consumers are unwilling to carry the unwanted cup to find recycling, composting or disposal options. Providing these options on city streets, malls, beaches, highways, and parks has a cost.

Supplying composting or recycling options can only work if consumers use the service properly. A busy commuter may throw a coffee cup full of liquid into a recycling bin at an airport or train station into a recycling bin contaminating the newspapers and other products in the bin for recycling or a compostable coffee cup dropped on the ground at a park may look and smell like food to wildlife.

While all communities have “to go” options for take-out coffee not every community has options to deal with the discards. Vancouver, like other communities in Canada, actively promotes street food sales as part of the community plan but with this encouragement of this economic development the big picture costs of “to go” has not been anticipated. For many communities property taxes make the old style mom and pop coffee shop, where patrons sat over a cup of coffee, not financially viable.

Banning single-use coffee cups will impact many small businesses in communities and before doing this perhaps we need to look at alternatives.

In New Zealand a campus coffee shop is no longer selling coffee in single-use coffee cups instead the Eden Cafe is asking patrons to bring their own cups or take a ceramic cup to return. Their research showed that the majority of their patrons consumed the coffee 50 metres from the cafe. The cafe is also able to create drop off zones around the campus for the reusable ceramic cups.

Food vendors at Powell River Farmers Market also use ceramic cups that can be deposited at a washing station as do many zero waste events. Mobile dish mobilesmay be an answer to eliminating waste when the cups are remaining in the area.

Creating deposit systems for refundable bottles has been successful at diverting recyclable products into recycling systems. In Vancouver, the one day Coffee Cup Revolution organized by The Binners Project, gave a 5 cent refund for single-use coffee cups, 55,000 cups were collected in downtown Vancouver.

Bans, deposit systems, recycling programs, and product design are methods that governments and business can work with to resolve the problems created by single-use cups but the success of these changes depends on the consumer. Years ago when coffee marketers looking to expand the market share convinced consumers of the convenience and ease of abandoning the office coffee pot or the thermos for coffee anytime and anyplace consumers embraced the “to go” way of life. Now realizing the impact of disposable cups we as consumers will be the ones to really create change.

As consumers it is the decisions we make that will make a difference.

If we want to avoid creating waste and wasting resources we have to make conscious changes in our behaviours and increase our awareness of the products we use including all end of life issues.

Even adopting reusable containers, we must resist our impulse of acquiring and discarding instead we must, as consumers lead the way to reducing and reusing and making things last.

Perhaps it is time to slow down our lifestyles so we sit down with a cup of coffee in a reusable cup and talk about a sustainable future.

Zero Waste Canada: Quiet?

Hello everybody!

It may seem that Zero Waste Canada took a bit of a vacation this summer as our regular newsletter and blog posts were quiet for several months.

We have actually been very active.

So here is a news update:

Zero Waste Canada Executive Director

We are very pleased to have Connie Reicheldorfer join our team as Executive Director. Connie brings a passion for growing the Zero Waste message as well as an array of knowledge and skills as a marketing contractor who specializes in working with non-profits and socially responsible start-ups.

As a Vancouver-based entrepreneur operating Sunny Start-Up Marketing, Connie is a strong advocate of permission-based marketing. She is an active volunteer participating in local environmental events as well as being Zero Waste Canada’s Vancouver Chapter organizer. Connie also works with a number of global campaigns including Let’s Do It World.

We look forward to increasing the resources and information we can offer while nurturing the growth of the Zero Waste movement across Canada.

Zero Waste Canada Website - New Look

Our website has gone through a facelift /reorganization as we continue to develop a go-to-resource for individuals, businesses, non-profits and governments committing to real Zero Waste actions. We have also switched to a secured server to make your donations and contributions as secure as they can be.

Check out the changes at https://zerowastecanada.ca

Recognizing Young Activists

Sarah St-Jean (grade 9)
Sarah St-Jean (grade 9)

In Coquitlam BC, the École des Pionniers de Maillardville rolled out their first “Green Award” to reward a “green” project organized and carried out by students in their school. Sarah St-Jean leveraged the help of other students to create a flower garden in the front of the school to save bees. Sarah asked all classes to donate seeds of flowers or the flowers themselves to be planted in front of the school. The idea was to have a flower garden to save the bees. Students were encouraged to learn about the importance of bees in our eco-system.

Following this project all grade 3 students attended the Bee Museum in Pitt Meadows -in order to understand the challenges the bees are facing nowadays and the importance bees have on our food system.

Zero Waste Canada contributed a membership to honour Sarah for her positive actions that benefit both her school and the environment.

Members of Zero Waste Canada are working with their communities and local businesses to create a circular economy. An economy where materials are reused and recycled, where greener alternatives are the norm, not the exception, and where businesses work with the community, not only for the community.

By becoming a member of Zero Waste Canada, Sarah is becoming a role model for her peers. She has displayed exemplary environmental stewardship and we hope that many others will follow her on that path.

Zero Waste Canada would like to thank all students who participated. We highly appreciate that these students are concerned about our planet and all living beings on it.

Thank you, Sarah for being a Zero Waste actionist.

Bolt Across Canada

On July 1, two of Zero Waste Canada’s directors set out on an epic road trip across Canada to promote Zero Waste and zero emissions. As a grassroots organization advocating a world without waste, Zero Waste Canada decided to take our message on the road to reach Canadians in their own backyards.

Buddy Boyd and Barb Hetherington travelled over 17,690 km across Canada from Victoria, BC, to Quidi Vidi, NL, and back to Gibsons, BC.

Not only were they the first all-electric Chevy Bolt to drive across Canada proving that zero emissions travel is possible. They had an almost Zero Waste journey for nearly two months on the road travelling through the provinces and participating in numerous events. They also proved that you can have a Zero Waste lifestyle anywhere. On the road, they even composted all food scraps.

Even though the road trip has been completed, the journey of Bolt Across Canada to promote Zero Waste and zero emissions is just beginning. Check out Bolt Across Canada to learn about Buddy and Barb’s low impact road trip and what they learned.

As members of our outreach educational team, Buddy and Barb will be continuing to share the experiences and how-to tips of Bolt Across Canada to school groups, communities and the electric vehicle community.


With our #BreakFreeFromPlastic campaign, we are joining a global movement to create awareness for the growing plastic pollution and drawing attention to the problem these plastics create for our health and our environment.

An international group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is coming together to do something big. Our goal is to work together to stop plastic pollution.

We are trying to make this movement as big as possible, and we want you to join!

We share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, and these shared values guide our work in building the world in which we wish to live.

In North America alone, the average person uses more than 300 pounds (around 140 kg) of plastic per year. That’s the equivalent of a full-grown Pacific Harbor Seal. Join us:



Follow our campaigns

Did you know that in 2010, Canadians used an estimated 1.5 billion disposable coffee cups, equivalent to more than half a million trees? And the number of single-use disposable items is escalating?

Are you getting annoyed seeing the litter from these disposable products like coffee cups and straws everywhere?

Zero Waste Canada is actively educating individuals as well as companies that are responsible for the current create-use-dump mentality. Help us out by showing your support of the #DemandZeroWaste campaign.

Join us for an active year ahead!