Your Used Coffee Cup Can Help the Environment
New company GreenCup wants to make a difference with compostable cups
Mount Royal Business Students Austin Lang and Emily Bartlett were inspired to create their company, GreenCup, when they learned that in Calgary alone, 337,000 disposable coffee cups are thrown out every day. These paper cups are coated in polystyrene, a synthetic resin that prevents the cups from biodegrading and potentially keeps them in landfills for up to 500 years.
Lang and Bartlett teamed up with Enactus Mount Royal; an organization of students that works on community-oriented and impact-driven projects, to create their new company. According to information from the company, GreenCup is “environmentally focused” with a goal to “make a large impact on the sustainability of the planet.”
GreenCup works by creating awareness of coffee cup waste and provides compostable coffee cups to businesses. Advertisements on the cups allow GreenCup to provide these cups for free. The Reflector sat down with Austin Lang to get some more information on the new sustainability focused company.
Q&A with Co-Founder and GreenCup Project Lead Austin Lang
The Reflector: What is GreenCup?
Austin Lang: We are a social enterprise, whose mission is to reduce disposable coffee cup waste. Our solution to this problem is to put advertising on disposable coffee cups and this will allow us to give compostable coffee cups to coffee shops for free. We will also be setting up a collection system in local coffee shops to ensure the cups are composted correctly.
TR: How did this all begin?
AL: It all started out of Enactus Mount Royal, we were trying to develop a way to recycle or re-use Starbucks or Tim Hortons coffee cups. After unsuccessful attempts we had to think outside the box and look at where the problem started instead of the end.
TR: How are you implementing this business plan?
AL: We are currently reaching out to local advertisers to buy our advertisement space. We have locked down a manufacturer to create the custom compostable cups for us and we’ve already locked down some local coffee shops to give the cups to.
TR: Why does this matter to you?
AL: I saw how many cups could go into the landfill and how it was affecting the environment and I wanted to do something to protect the environment. This was a problem that I saw that I could fix and although it might not be the solution to all environmental problems, it gets people thinking about the environment and that’s what leads to true change.
TR: You’ve been in the news lately, tell me about the petition against Tim Hortons?
AL: So we started the petition to basically get awareness for the project and on campus waste. We were just trying to get enough people to catch the attention of Tim Horton’s and start the talk of compostable cups or recycling their cups. This is mainly because we plan to launch an education program, and a collection program on campus, as good earth coffee cups are already compostable.
TR: What sets you apart?
AL: Most coffee shops don’t have enough money to buy compostable cups but they have good intentions. There’s some coffee shops that do have compostable cups, but are not making sure that the cups make it to the right facility and therefore not solving the problem. We are hoping that our partnership with Enactus Mount Royal brings awareness to the coffee cup recycling problem and allows us to collect the compostable cups and take them to a compostable facility.
GreenCup’s simple alternative to disposable cups is a great example of student innovation. Sometimes small changes can have the biggest impact. For local businesses that are interested, students that want to get involved or anyone who wants to learn more about GreenCup’s initiative for change, email Austin Lang at email@example.com