July 16, 2010

Betacup Challenge - Solutions Abound to Disposable Coffee Cup Waste

We all know that the empty cups from the trips to the coffee shop pile up somewhere and add a lot of volume to the waste stream; 58 billion waste coffee cups go into landfills a year globally to give you an idea of the magnitude according to Betacup. Betacup is working to reduce that number, and they recently ran a contest to figure out how to best reduce that number. Offering solutions is easy, changing habits is hard. Here's what the winning entry offered as a solution:

Karma Cup - Simple to implement and just as cheap; place a blackboard at the head of the line where each person who brings in a reusable cup gets to check off a box. The 10th person to check off that box, gets their beverage for free. The incentive becomes a community based solution and brings a community together to solve the issue. My hunch is that there is a tipping point after which the community exerts subtle pressure on others to join in.

I liken this to reusable bags at the grocery stores. While we are not to 100% use, I leave mine at home way too much, the prevalence has made a big jump. No laws had to be enacted to eliminate plastic bags in general, numerous shoppers show up with their bundles of bags and stores have gotten behind it. It's not nirvana yet, but the US has made a surprising jump without drastic measures in my mind. A social program like the winning idea above could just tip the scales for coffee cups too.

The Betacup challenge was sponsored in part by Starbucks. The winning team got a $10,000 prize.

Read about the winning entry, and the other great entries at The Betacup

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Posted by Scott Martin at July 16, 2010 10:25 AM
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