Richard Fine

Sustainable business - Plant based packaging - Circular economy - cradle to cradle business philosophy.

Richard Fine's latest activity
commented on Takeaway Coffee Cups...The issues ‘Unwrapped’ 2017-04-26 16:13:16 +1000
It seems as if the paper cup is the catalyst to address society’s over-consumption problems. Paper cups represent a very small amount of waste when looking at the issue in perspective. In Australia we currently send 18 million tons of waste to landfill every year. Paper cups accounts for 12 000 tons of waste. This is not to say its not a problem, however perhaps the problem is less to do with the paper cup and more to do with the overall low rate of recycling both locally and internationally.

This article begins by saying paper cups are not recyclable. It would be more accurate to say the local recyclers do not want to recycle this product. It has nothing to do with the thin plastic coating on the paper, if this were the problem then how are these companies currently recycling all the milk and juice cartons that are accepted in our co-mingled household recycling bins. These packs are coated both inside and out with plastic and some even contain a layer of aluminium foil. In the ACT they acept paper cups in the mixed paper stream. On their website they say these cups are processed at the Visy Tumut facility – If Visy can do it at one of their mills then why is that service not available to all councils in NSW? http://www.act.gov.au/recycling/what-goes-in-the-yellow-bin/c#CoffeeCups

Its also not accurate to say that biodegradability cups can only be composted. They could just as easily be recycled along with regular plastic coated cups – composting provides just another end of life option other than landfill. All paper that ends up in landfill will decompose and release methane gas not just compostable paper cups.

The benefiits of compostable cups is not only that they can be composted, rather they are made using rapidly renewable bioplastics made from plants instead of regular plastic from fossil resources.

Single use disposable food service packaging provides a hygienic, cost effective and practical way to enjoy food on the go. Just as nature produces more than 100 billion tons of biomass every year without any negative environmental impact we see a future where single use disposable food service packaging is produced from sustainably sourced rapidly renewable abundant materials that return nutrients back into the cycle once they have served their purpose.
commented on Reusable coffee cups frankly make sense 2017-03-08 15:07:10 +1100
Reusable cups are most definitely the more sustainable option, however not many consumers are willing to sacrifice the convenience of a paper cup provides. If you look at he uptake of reusable bags vs regular plastic bags at supermarkets, you will find that the majority of consumers still use plastic bags. If we all strive to minimize our environmental impact, whilst still enjoying modern conveniences of take out meals, we would need to leave the house with a reusable cup, a cloth carry bag, metal cutlery sets and a plate or Tupperware. If you had more than 1 take out drink or meal per day you would also need access to water and detergent to clean these reusable items. I don’t believe its realistic to expect everyone to switch to reusables. Rather we should be designing & manufacturing disposables that fit into a circular economy – produced from renewable resources using renewable energy and all components being recycled back into the system after use. Nature is abundant, every year nature produces 105 billion metric tons of biomass, this material is reabsorbed into the environment and does not harm or pollute. Manufacturing is slowly evolving to replicate natures closed loop process where there is no waste.

Im not sure where the stats are from but plastics certainly don’t account for 50% of landfill volume. In most studies it is less than 15% .

The high fabrication energy required for the reusable cups becomes unimportant over enough uses – 500 or more, compared to the energy required to wash and sanitize them for reuse. The wash energy alone is more than half that required to make a paper cup.