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Following the sixth Carbon Budget, the UK is working to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Businesses across all sectors are expected to shrink their carbon footprint, but this can be more challenging for some industries than others.

Those operating in hospitality face particular challenges, and this includes our beloved coffee shops.  Unfortunately, the products used to make our favourite coffees tend not to be sustainable, and much of the waste generated by these businesses can be less straightforward to effectively recycle, such as food waste and takeaway cups. When it’s not recycled, this waste is disposed of by landfill or incineration, emitting methane and other gases that can exacerbate climate change.

But while the big chains can afford to set up whole teams dedicated to reducing their waste and making trade more eco-friendly, smaller local enterprises might not be so sure of where to start. Thankfully, Bywaters can help: read on to learn about some simple sustainable coffee shop ideas, and learn how to go green in your business.

Recycle your used coffee grounds

If your business is a hotspot for latte lovers, you’ll no doubt find yourself quickly accumulating an excess of used coffee grounds. Unfortunately, this inevitable byproduct generally ends up in general food waste streams, and the UK sends over half a million tonnes of grounds to landfill each year,

But it doesn’t have to be this way: coffee grounds recycling can convert your leftover grounds into bio-fuels for industrial and commercial use, so that they can go on to serve energy-efficient purposes. One example of a product made from recycled coffee grounds is a coffee log, offering a carbon-neutral alternative to wood which can burn hotter for longer periods of time. With one less product to dispose of, you can cut your business’ waste and reduce its carbon footprint.

Provide plant-based milk

Stocking a variety of dairy-free milk options can help to make your coffee trade more sustainable. This is because the production of milk substitutes releases approximately a third of the greenhouse gas that dairy milk farming does. Alternatives like oat, soy and almond milk demand less land, water and fewer other resources than standard milk. So, these are the products to invest in if you want to incentivise eco-friendly coffee consumption and reduce your business’ reliance on dairy milk.

However, in spite of the growing popularity of these alternatives, many shops still charge more for them. Naturally, this will discourage customers from trying out or switching entirely to dairy-free options — so while they can be more expensive to source than standard milk, you should ideally price them the same. Thankfully, these substitutes tend to have longer shelf lives than dairy-based products, so one option to keep costs down would be to order cheaply in bulk and store them for later use.

Use recyclable takeaway cups

At a coffee shop, disposable cups will make up a large proportion of your waste output — the UK throws away more than 2.5 billion each year. These cups tend to be made of mixed materials, often lined with insulating plastic which makes them tricky to recycle without specialised facilities. As a result, most disposable cups will end up in mixed waste loads heading straight to landfill.

Instead, it may be wise to invest in new 100% recyclable coffee cup options so that your takeaway customers don’t have to think about their correct disposal, and can instead just put them in a mixed recyclable bin.

Offer a discount for reusable cups

With the growing awareness for sustainable living, you might have noticed that many customers prefer to bring in their own reusable coffee cups. Some of the big brands surcharge for disposable cups and offer discounts to those that bring their own, further encouraging this eco-friendly switch. For those that purchase takeaway coffee each day, these savings will quickly accumulate — so by rewarding customers using reusable cups, you could reduce the number of disposables you have to provide, and consequently, your cup waste.

Alternatively, you could even use this incentive to market your own reusable cups. If a customer purchases a cup branded with your business name, they can pop in to fill it up and go about their day, reducing your waste and advertising your shop wherever they sip.

Reduce your food waste

Once you’ve addressed your coffee grounds and cup waste, your next target should be to scale down your food waste. One charitable way to do this is to donate unused food products to organisations like The Felix Project, which collects and redistributes goods from restaurants, shops and wholesalers, to give to the hungry and vulnerable in London.

Bywaters food waste service

Bywaters can help your business sustainably dispose of any other food waste that can’t be repurposed. Firstly, we provide you with separate food bins to be collected at a time that’s convenient to you. From here, your waste is transported to a specialised facility where it will decompose, with the released greenhouse gases captured, treated, and used on the national grid. The residual waste material is then used as farmland fertiliser, leaving no byproducts unused in our recycling process. For more information about how we can help with your sustainability efforts, read about our different services or contact us for a free quote.


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