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Plastic crisis: material vs volume

Swearing off plastic? How will you take your coffee - KeepCup Original, coffee husk cup, bamboo cup or single use paper cup?

None of the above. All these products are likely to be made from plastic - your coffee husk cup is primarily plastic (polypropylene), your bamboo cup uses plastic (melamine) as a binder and your single use paper cup has a layer of plastic (polyethylene) lining. In fact, there’s enough plastic in 20 single use paper cups and lids to make one small KeepCup.

So let’s talk plastic. In today’s conversation about single use plastics and going plastic free, too often plastics are all tarred with the same brush. It’s not plastic that’s the problem, it’s how we use it.

Single use plastic is clogging our oceans, river systems and landfills. We know the stats. 40 percent of all plastic around the world is used just once before being discarded. 18 billion pounds of plastic waste floods our oceans each year, equivalent to five grocery bags of rubbish per foot of coastline around the world.* We need a global shift from single use to reuse, driven by individual changemakers, businesses and governments.

If we swore off plastic altogether, we’d be without our cars, phones, computers and much more. As Plastic Free July Founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz says, “it’s not a world without plastic, it’s a world without plastic waste”. Plastic, when used responsibly, is a valuable resource that is fit for purpose and can support reuse.

“It’s not a world without plastic,
it’s a world without plastic waste.”

- Plastic Free July Founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz

We use plastic (BPA/BPS free) in our KeepCup Originals because it’s lightweight, unbreakable and fit for purpose for coffee on the go. It has low embodied energy in manufacture, and exact tolerances, which reduces waste on the factory floor. It’s also lightweight and stackable, which reduces the environmental cost of freight.

Plastic is recyclable, but this system is in crisis all over the world. We chose plastic because it is readily collected in many countries, but we now know this does not mean it is actually recycled. The next step of our plastics journey sees us investing in circular solutions, partnering with manufacturers in the US, UK and Australia to commercially recycle our products at end of life.

While we advocate strongly for action on unnecessary single use plastics, we recognise that plastic, used well, is part of the solution. Here’s to a more nuanced discussion that recognises the difference between plastic and plastic waste.

*National Geographic, Dec 2018, Fast Facts About Plastic Pollution


“Many small acts make a phenomenal difference.”

Abigail Forsyth,
KeepCup Cofounder and Managing Director


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