In 2018, Merlo Coffee launched a compostable cup initiative to stop more than 3 million cups going to landfill every year. This initiative diverted over 37 million tonnes of organics in 2019, and it's still going. Merlo teamed up with BioPak to introduce fully compostable cups and lids for customers, which are then sent to organics recyclers such as NuGrow. Since January 2019, NuGrow has created more than 1,100 cubic metres of compost using Merlo's organics.
Merlo Coffee has led the way in reducing their waste. Merlo was the first coffee business in Queensland to introduce compostable takeaway cups and lids. Using BioPak Compost Service, they compost coffee grounds, food scraps, and packaging. The company founder, Dean Merlo, said, "In our 15 Merlo cages across Queensland, we go through millions of takeaway cups every year – if you lined them up, they'd stretch from Brisbane to Byron Bay and back again!" By removing conventional plastic-coated cups, and switching to BioPak compostable cups and lids, Merlo have cut their carbon emissions by 25%, and now keep 9.4 tonnes of plastic out of landfill and create 164 tonnes of compost each year.
Merlo provides compost bins for customers to dispose of their used cups responsibly. Since November 2018, Merlo customers have been served takeaway coffee in BioPak single-wall compostable cups made from plants rather than crude oil. These used cups can then go into special composting bins at each Merlo store, along with food scraps and coffee grounds, to be transported to a facility near Ipswich where recycling and revegetation innovator NuGrow turns it into organic compost. BioPak CEO Gary Smith said Merlo customers can now be part of the solution to the national waste crisis. "Along with a mountain of coffee cups, Australians dump more than 8 million tonnes of food and organic waste that could be composted," Mr Smith said. "Decomposing food releases methane, which is [more than] 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, causing enormous damage to our environment." Merlo has led the way in Queensland by composting its cups and organic waste, and other coffee retailers have now stepped up to be part of the change. Merlo also aims to roll out compostable cups to the 1600+ cafes it supplies with Merlo coffee beans.
We all have a responsibility to reduce our waste. However, it is not just the cafes providing compostable coffee cups that have a responsibility for our waste. Once that cup finds itself in your hands, Merlo has no more control over where it ends up. If you have the time, hang around the café so that you can put the cup into the compost bin when you are finished with it. If you don't, why not store the cups until you find another compost bin you can dispose of them in? Compostable cups in landfill will emit methane and contribute to climate change, same as any other organic waste. We all have a responsibility to look after the planet, and it involves thinking about and being aware of our waste. Does your business want to make a difference? Join the BioPak Compost Service and start composting.
Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. Stay safe.