War on Waste ‘not 100 per cent accurate’

Paper cup manufacturers are fighting back against a program aired Tuesday on ABC that claimed 100 per cent of coffee cups are ending up in landfill, and that the only alternative is reusable cups.

War on Waste, an ABC series hosted by The Chaser’s Craig Reucassel, that aired this past Wednesday 31 May, saw Craig fill a tram full of take-away coffee cups, and announce that of the 1 billion coffee cups used in Australia every year, every one of them ends up in landfill.

Biopak Founder and Director Richard Fine told BeanScene he was interviewed by Craig, and informed him that several councils were recycling paper cups. He provided the list to BeanScene, which shows dozens of councils that confirm they did recycle paper coffee cup.

“The facts presented in the War on Waste Episode last night were unfortunately not 100 per cent accurate as paper cups including BioCups are accepted in the paper recycling stream in many councils,” he said.

BeanScene Magazine has spoken with a publicist from the ABC to confirm why this information wasn’t included in the program. The publicist sent its enquiry through to production company Keo Films who hasn’t yet responded to our enquiry.

The real challenge with recycling paper cups, Richard told BeanScene, is not that paper cups can’t be recycled, but more that several leading recycling companies are simply refusing to do it. Richard nevertheless welcomed the media attention to put pressure on recycling companies to make the effort to recycle paper cups.

“The bioplastic lining on BioCup actually dissolves during the repulping process and is easier to recycle compared to PE-coated cups,” he said.

The O’Kelly Group also provides 100 per cent compostable cups, and will need to work with recyclers and councils to ensure the cups are recycled.

According to Biopak, paper coffee cups account for only 0.5 per cent of the 3.2 million tons of paper consumed in Australia every year. Currently Australians send around 1.7 million tons of recyclable paper to landfill, this includes 12,000 tons of coffee cups.

“Compare Australia’s current 45 per cent paper recycling rate to some countries achieving a 75 per cent rate and it’s clear to see we have a problem that is bigger than coffee cups,” Mr Fine said.

Back in May, Trish Hyde, Australian Packaging Covenant Chief Executive Officer laid out some of the challenges of recycling coffee cups.

“The community is currently receiving many mixed messages about whether their coffee cup can be recycled or not,” Ms Hyde said.

“Because the actual cup is made from paperboard with a plastic lining, typically polyethylene, there was concern that this mixed material presents issues for recycling facilities.

“Our members include material recovery and recycling facilities. Through the working group, we resolved that coffee cups can be recycled. However, we also know that there is more work to do to ensure that recyclers receive fair value in recycling this material,” Ms Hyde said.

The list of councils accepting paper cups was recently verified by Planet Ark and The Australian Packaging Covenant.

This article originally appeared on BeanScene Magazine.

War on Waste focuses on scale of food waste

Chaser comedian Craig Reucassel has focused his new documentary War on Waste on the growing influx of waste generation in Australia.

Reucassel told News Corp Australia used to be a world-leading nation when it came to kerbside recycling, but has now fallen behind.

While politicians have to play a role in changing legislation, Reucassel said it was also up to supermarkets and consumers to create change.

The new documentary reveals up to 40 per cent of bananas are thrown away by farmers as they don’t meet standards set by supermarkets, including being too bent, straight, long or short.

“I was shocked by the waste,” Reucassel told News Corp.

“These bananas are highly edible but they don’t fit the cosmetic look. If they are too curved they are thrown out, if they are not curvy enough they are thrown out.

“It’s really hard being a banana these days.”

Reucassel said the thing that surprised him most was the sheer volume of fruit and vegetables that were simply tossed out, despite the months of work that goes into growing them.

“It’s very hard to make fruit or vegetables come out in a perfect way,” he said. “I saw a zucchini that was too big to be sold, because of one extra day’s rain, it’s crazy.

“I think it’s particularly sad when you think about how many people struggle to get food in Australia (and the world) that so much edible food is just chucked.”

Reucassel found that on average shoppers threw out the equivalent of one in five shopping bags worth of food at home, which is generally food that people buy but don’t get a chance to eat.

On the program he fills a Melbourne tram with disposable coffee cups (which generally cannot be recycled) to get people thinking about the staggering amount of rubbish that goes to landfill.

“I think a lot of people either don’t think about it or don’t know how to deal with it,” Reucassel said.

“We have a coffee culture in Australia built around takeaway coffee cups, but it’s not like that in all countries, this is a new waste stream that we are not dealing with.”