A recent measure approved by the European Union requires member states to prohibit the use of a series of objects made of disposable plastic. Among these, in addition to plates and cutlery, also the small sticks that are commonly used to mix coffee. Although the capsules of plastic coffee are now destined to a short life.
At the end of March this year the European Parliament, with 560 votes in favor, 35 against and 28 abstentions, it has finally approved the directive outlawing the sale of some disposable plastic items within the Union.
Pollution of the seas
This measure has become indispensable due to the catastrophic statistics on pollution, especially that of the seas. In fact, over 80% of the waste caught in the sea is made up of plastic, a material characterized by a very slow decomposition.
Only in Europe every year about 26 million tons of plastic are produced and only 30% of it is recyclable. And all the rest? It ends up in the sea.
There are now numerous “plastic islands” in the world: the largest is the Pacific Trash Vortex, in the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that its dimensions are between a minimum of 700,000 square kilometers up to more than 10 million square kilometers.
A big cry for help against the environmental pollution of the sea pollution also came from the recent Milan Design Week, held from 9 to 14 April. The almost bloody light installation, called “HELP THE PLANET, HELP THE HUMANS”, by the artist Maria Cristina Finucci, was made with about two tons of plastic caps. The caps, contained in bags of red food nets, were then caged in ferrous structures to form the four large letters of the word “HELP”.
The new EU directive
According to Frèdèrique Ries, Belgian MEP rapporteur for the provision,
“the new standard will reduce environmental damage by 22 billion euros, which is the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe by 2030”.
The Norma prohibits the sale of some specific disposable plastic items. Cotton swabs, plates, cutlery, straws, beverage scoops, balloon sticks and food containers made of expanded polystyrene were banned.
For other articles, however, different measures are envisaged as new design and labeling requirements.
In any case, by 2025 Member States will have to reduce the consumption of plastic products for which there are no alternatives by 25%. For other plastics, such as beverage bottles, a recycling rate of 90% must be reached.
The plastic in the world of portioned coffee
Given the new European legislation, but thanks also to the growing awareness of the issues of pollution and recycling, the use of disposable plastic has now counted the hours also in the coffee sector, especially in the segment of portioned.
In this part of the market, unfortunately today there are still many items in which plastic is the major component: stirrers, glasses, capsules, blisters.
Already some public companies in Italy have become “plastic free”, adhering to the campaign promoted by the ministry of environment #iosonoambiente. Wooden scoops are used to mix drinks and paper cups to contain them. Employees drink water from recycled aluminum water bottles. Ditto in some universities, such as the one in Catania: water dispensers have been introduced to prevent students from buying plastic bottles.
And the capsules? A small group of researchers from the Bicocca University of Milan has launched a fundraiser collecting € 7,500 for the project “Coffee without tracks”. This study provides for the sustainable disposal of plastic coffee capsules used in the Milanese university: 5,000 consumed in only one year by the 11 researchers!
With an existing machine, produced by the White Star company of Rieti, it is possible to separate the components of the capsules, using plastic for recycling and coffee for composting. This will make it possible to fertilize the Niguarda Common Garden, an area of 4,800 square meters inside the Northern Park of Milan.
But the even more sustainable alternative exists and is that of the realization of totally compostable capsules. In Germany in public companies they are already mandatory.
In Italy, currently, only a few manufacturers have worked to make compostable capsules, but much is still to be done. We are confronted with the high costs of raw materials which, of course, have an impact, and not a little, on the public price of the products.
In BeCoffee we firmly believe that something must be done right away to save the planet, regardless of regulatory impositions and deadlines. Our ecological choice is expressed in the daily search and selection of an ever-increasing number of organic, sustainable and compostable products.
Respecting nature even while we drink good coffee is possible!
Visit the green area on our site and come to our stores to find out which compostable capsules and pods are already available. Soon you will also find environmentally friendly sticks and glasses on our shelves.