Going Green in Your Coffee House - Part 2

We got a lot of great response from the other thread titled "Going Green in Your Coffee House" and I wanted to follow up with a Part 2 post. I thought it may be helpful to list some products that promote eco friendly buying practices in a coffee house setting.

Compostable White Hot Cups with World Art ... Here in Portland, I have seen a lot of coffee bars switching to compostable paper cups. I have also heard different reviews from baristas and roasters on which are the best. There are the Eco-Products Hot and Cold cups, made using a PLA plastic inner lining, these paper hot cups are fully compostable. Espresso Parts has a full line up of Eco-Friendly cups, lids, and more to check out. Eco-Products' compostable/biodegradable COLD cups are clear and are made from an annually renewable resource--corn! With the same look and feel as clear plastic cups, these compostable biodegradable corn cups contain NatureWorks PLA, and environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. The cups are odorless and completely non-allergenic. These products are designed to compost in a commercial facility in 45-60 days.

Cafetto has an Organic Espresso Machine Cleaner called EVO. Cafetto EVO is OMRI listed as complying with the USDA National Organic Program requirements and BFA registered as complying with the requirements of the Australian Organic Standard.

I know that this cleaner is popular in Australia, and I was curious how many people here in US are using it, or if anyone has any feedback? I see on their site that both Cuvee Coffee and Coffee Klatch are distributors.

Another brand of Eco-Friendly cups that I have seen at the EcoTainer from Intl. Paper. They have a in depth FAQ on their site about the cups. It seems to be very similar to the compostable cups. I encourage all of you to check with your local coffee roaster if they can provide you with an eco-friendly option. Show them there is a demand for this.

Another topic discussed was Composting Coffee Grounds in your garden. We like to save the grounds from our training classes at ABC's and my wife and I use them at home. Here is a link on How To ... and another link I found on Peets Coffee and Tea website, that talks about using Coffee and Tea Residues.

It is great to see people on this site sharing these types of experience, and maybe with some work we can develop an easy system for really Greening coffee shops around the U.S. Feel free to post other ideas/products below that may be helpful. I remember in the last Green post many people were asking about products and for any feedback. Thanks! (next blog post ... organic milk, coming soon).

- Matt

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Comment by BioGreen2 on January 22, 2009 at 5:13pm
There are a lot of problems with PLA - If we made all of the plastic disposable items used in the world every year out of PLA, it would take one hundred million tons of corn to make it. That would lead to mass starvation in the third world, as that represents at least 10% of the world's grain supply. Also, in landfills, PLA exudes methane when it decomposes-and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It also takes a huge amount of diesel to grow, fertilize, ship, and process this corn. As a practical matter, it is also not recyclable. The alternative? Oxo-biodegradable plastics. See http://biogreenproducts.biz for full information. -Tim Dunn
Comment by Mike Love on June 24, 2008 at 1:28pm
not sure was a while ago
Comment by Tougo Coffee on June 24, 2008 at 1:02pm
very cool thanks much ML what was the issue?
Comment by Mike Love on June 24, 2008 at 5:27am
They just fixed it. I worked with them on it. I am suppose to get the new cups to see if they leak soon.
Comment by Tougo Coffee on June 23, 2008 at 10:10pm
once I hear back from IP, that the leaking issue has been resolved I will move back ASAP because I was the instigator in seattle :-)
Comment by Tougo Coffee on June 23, 2008 at 10:09pm
I have found that both the Large and the Medium cups leak and sometimes the lids just will not stay on. I think the technology is still in the infant stages,and will only get better with time. I spoke with IP, and this is what I have been informed of, I have in the meantime switched back to the solo hot cups until I can get my customers to actually drop off the CC's in a comp bin, or just enc them to use a SS commuter mug and save .25 each visit.

Comment by Mike Love on April 30, 2008 at 5:42am
Coffee Labs went green slowly. We started with green cleaning products and paper products. Then we added a compost program, water and wind energy, Green lights.
We just added Eco-Products cups. As anyone found that the medium size leeks? We want to keep them increase our compost program.
We would love feed back on the cups and doing a large scale compost program in a retail shop.
Comment by Heath Henley on April 13, 2008 at 6:59am
We are currently working on getting these: http://www.ecosleeve.com/

Last I checked, the cost was actually going to end up being LESS than the paper sleeves we were getting - and that's with a custom imprint.

Another good thing is that break down in anaerobic conditions, meaning they don't need airflow. This is what Ben was referring to when he was saying that some "biodegradable" items won't actually break down in your typical landfill.

I have one particular item that we've just started searching for: biodegradable trash bags. I know that on the consumer side there is BioBag, but does anyone know if they do commercial grade bags as well?

Because what good is any of this if we just wrap it up in plastic before sending it off to the dump?
Comment by Taylor Mork on April 8, 2008 at 5:43am
Trellis Earth - Biodegradable Corn Plastic Products. These guys have a vast line of bioplastics, a few of which we use for our farmers market sales (shopping bags and such). Bioplastics are generally a good replacement for any Styrofoam or plastic cutlery/plates you use. It doesn't look like they have adequate cups for a coffee shop environment. They have a retail store in Portland, and they also have a good explanation of compostable vs. biodegradable on their FAQ page.

I'd love to see supermarkets start to use bioplastics for customers buying in bulk (i.e. out of the bulk bins) or for the fruit/veg area. Although they would need to set up some sort of recycling program so that the bags don't just sit with no air in a landfill like the rest of our garbage for another thousand years.
Comment by Ben Salinas on April 2, 2008 at 9:54am
I'm not 100% certain about this, but I have been told by a few people that I trust that the compostable cups that shops are switching to won't actually compost in just a landfill. In talking with some manufacturers of them at CoffeeFest DC, they confirmed that in order to decompose, they have to be placed in the right environment (which entails a fairly warm area like you get in a compost pile). So, if you are in a city which has compost pickup (like SF), then make sure to drop your cups in the big green bins.
Otherwise, these "biodegradable" cups won't actually compost like you would expect.

Smithsonian Magazine has a lengthy article on the subject at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/plastic.html
Additionally there is a good blog post at http://farbensays.blogspot.com/2007/12/why-is-there-corn-in-my-coffee.html

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