What do you do when you arrive at a coffee shop and realize you’ve forgotten your reusable mug? Many of us, in need of caffeine, would guiltily accept the disposable cup that may or may not be recyclable. But the city of Freiburg, Germany came up with an inventive solution. They created the Freiburg Cup, which coffee lovers can snag for one Euro and return to participating stores to be cleaned and used again – up to 400 times.
In Germany, over 300,000 disposable coffee cups are consumed every single hour, according to Freiburg representatives. And the 2.8 billion disposable cups consumed a year require 43,000 trees, 320 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 1.5 billion liters of water, and 3,000 tons of crude oil – not to mention many aren’t even recycled. And these resource-intensive cups are typically used for a mere 13 minutes before being tossed out. The city launched the Freiburg Cup around a year ago, and there are now around 107 bakeries and cafes participating. The cups are manufactured in southern Germany.
Coffee drinkers can obtain the plasticizer- and BPA-free cup comprised of recyclable polypropylene at participating cafes, identifiable by a green sticker in the window. When they’ve finished the beverage, they can return it to any one of those cafes, which will disinfect the containers.
The city doesn’t offer a reusable lid, for financial and hygienic reasons, they said. But they seem to think the disposable lids have a good chance of being recycled – when the cup is returned for cleaning, the lids are placed in a yellow bag for recycling.
So far the Freiburg Cup has been incredibly successful, according to TreeHugger, with other cities in the country expressing interest. Coffee drinkers can find the locations of participating cafes on the Freiburg Cup website.