For many of us, coffee has become a fundamental part of our daily routine. Coffee is the second most trade-able commodity in the world, second only to oil. Extremely high consumption rates of coffee on a global scale means the multi-billion euro industry is causing severe damage to our environment.

A recent poll by RTE revealed that over half the Irish population want to ban single use coffee cups. which is surely a sign of increased awareness surrounding the issue. There are coffee producers who are Rainforest Alliance Certified and some customers choose to pay a few cent extra for fair trade tea and coffee, which of course is beneficial to the farmers who produce the beans abroad, but what about closer to home? Sure, buying fair trade dampens the impact of the coffee industry in terms of exploitation of people and that’s certainly a step in the right direction but coffee culture continues to have a detrimental effect on the environment closer to home. The sad fact is that coffee consumers often neglect the environmental impact caused by their daily habit.

Studies have shown that it can take up to 30 years for a single takeaway coffee cup to decompose. So what can be done to combat this problem without having to sacrifice your morning brew? Larger franchises like Caffe Nero, Insomnia and Starbucks offer incentives to encourage the use of reusable cups through offers like double stamps on loyalty cards and say discounted prices.

There is however another issue throwing a spanner in the works for those who offer eco-friendly options, Aisling Rogerson from The Fumbally expressed her concern regarding carelessness on behalf of customers disposing of cups; “If we go through the effort of supplying a compostable cup and someone throws it into the regular bin, that effort is futile. It won’t break down in the landfill.” The problem is that even if cafes choose to supply compostable and recyclable cups, it’s up to the customer to act responsibly when disposing of the cup correctly. Especially considering the possible contamination of other materials in the bin if the cups are not disposed of properly.

If you’re curious about which Irish establishments provide eco-friendly options, check out this list of socially responsible cafe’s who use recyclable, compostable and reusable cups;

Suas Coffee House, Ennis, Co. Clare: Suas supply recyclable and reusable cups. They offer KeepCups with an added incentive of a free coffee in hopes of getting customers to use them as opposed to leaving them behind in the office or the car.

The Fumbally, Dublin 8: Compostable cups are used at The Fumbally.

Love Supreme, Dublin 7: Love Supreme currently use compostable cups and are planning on starting a campaign to push the use of reusable cups.

Meet me in the Morning, Dublin 8: All of the packaging and coffee cups from Meet me in the Morning are compostable.

Priory Coffee, Cork: Focus on sustainability, supplied by Down 2 Earth Materials.

The Woollen Mills, Dublin 1: Recyclable paper coffee cups and recyclable lids. Also, all of their plastic cutlery is biodegradable and their takeaway boxes made from recycled paper. The Woollen Mills try to limit the use of straws, they no longer put them in soft drinks.

Thru the Green, Dundrum, Dublin: Thru the Green supply reusable cups and only use compostable packaging.

Urbanity Coffee, Dublin 7: All of their packaging is fully compostable, including coffee cups which are made from organic material and can be placed in the brown bin. Their cups are supplied by Down 2 Earth Materials.

Brother Hubbard, Dublin: All of Brother Hubbard’s cups are fully compostable and all disposable items are either recyclable or compostable. They provide a discount for those who choose to bring their own cup and are currently working on installing a special bin for people to return their compostable items.

Pre-Order Coffee Co., Dublin 7: All cups are 100% compostable

Cafe on the Lane, Clonakilty, Cork:  Coffee cups supplied by Down 2 Earth Materials

Green Bench Cafe, Dublin 2: Currently using Down 2 Earth Materials on a variety of packaging including salad containers and soup lids and cups.

The Roastery Cafe, Dublin 15: – The Roastery use Compostable cups.

Vice Coffee, Dublin 1: Vice use fully compostable cups.


Coffee culture and sustainability

If you’re interested in sustainability in the food and drinks industry then check out our article on a brewery tackling the food waste problem by making vodka from discarded confectionery.

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