Seymour Gris: The to go cup tax

There's a lot going on in the world today. But that doesn't mean there's no time to act local. Disposable coffee cups create an absurd amount of waste and the Berlin parliament plans to do something about it.

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Syria, refugees, sexism, racism, Trump, Pegida, Grexit, Brexit… who cares about coffee cups?

They bother me. Take, for example, the organic bakery across the square from the Exberliner office. It sells a huge number of coffees to go, and copious paper cups bearing their stylish logo end up littering the park and playground. Not really bio, is it?

In Germany 325,000 disposable coffee cups are thrown away per hour. That’s about three billion per year. Roughly 170 million in Berlin, alone. Despite popular belief, to go cups aren’t recyclable due to the wax coating lining the inside. Hence, tens of thousands of tons of trash are produced, tens of thousands of tons of plastic and wood and water go into the production. For what? For 10 minutes of coffee on the run?

The SPD and Greens in the Berlin parliament have proposed a 20 cent tax on to go cups. And perhaps also on disposable food containers which have been proliferating since the viral explosion of delivery services.

The third wave coffee slurping hipster probably won’t notice a 20 cent surcharge on his or her €3 flat-white. Rather, the construction worker who gets his coffee for a euro at the bakery. Egal, perhaps a tax would spurn everyone to redirect a tiny bit of their attention to the absurd amount of waste they’re creating. Meanwhile, cafés could take the lead and surge ahead with an innovative reusable cup system. How about it, Berlin?