Brilliant Alternative to Disposable Coffee Cups – City of Freiburg
The city of Freiburg, Germany, has come up with an excellent solution to the problem of rampant coffee cup waste and human forgetfulness. In November 2016, it launched the Freiburg Cup, a hard plastic to-go cup with a disposable lid that’s provided to businesses by the city. Customers pay a €1 deposit for the cup, which can be returned to any one of 100 stores in the city center. These stores will disinfect and reuse the cups, up to 400 times. Participating stores have an identifying green sticker in the window.
The food and dishwasher safe cups are made in southern Germany from polypropylene and do not contain BPA or plasticizers.
The program has been hugely successful in its first year, especially among students on the university campus. Other cities throughout Germany have expressed interest in replicating the program.
From the FAQ section of the Freiburg Cup website, having a reusable cup option is particularly relevant for Germans, who drink an impressive 300,000 cups of coffee per hour. This adds up to 2.8 billion coffee cups a year, all of which are used for an average of 13 minutes before being tossed out.
The Freiburg Cup model could easily be exported elsewhere around the world. Indeed, this is what Environment Commissioner Gerda Stuchlik hopes. The Freiburg Cups often disappear into tourists’ suitcases as a cheap souvenir, a 15% shrinkage rate that is frustrating, but Stucklik says, “We take comfort in the fact that the idea of reducing waste is being exported to the world with every Freiburg Cup.”