In Vancouver, Canada residents are accustomed to recycling the lion’s share of their household waste, including coffee cups, through municipal curbside pickup. When one Vancouver resident and sustainability consultant, Jennifer Henry, wondered why so many coffee shops across North America weren’t able to provide the same recycling options to customers, she set out to change that.
Henry started Perk Eco Inc, with the goal of enabling coffee shops to recycle 90% of their waste, including cups.
“58 billion coffee cups go to landfill every single year. Despite what some coffee drinkers think, they are not waste; they are recyclable”, says Henry. “It’s a matter of making sure the coffee shop owner has a simple and convenient system for the customer to empty and stack their cup and lid, and that they also have access to a recycler who processes cups.”
When coffee shops sign up for the Perk Eco program, they receive custom-built recycling stations that provide a liquid receptacle for unconsumed beverages, as well as a designated spot to stack cups and lids. There are also bins where customers and employees can recycle or compost stir sticks, sugar packets, tea bags, wrappers, coffee bags, takeout containers, beverage containers, and more.
“With covid, our cups and packaging waste skyrocketed,” says Laura Cornale, Owner of Laura’s Coffee Corner in White Rock, BC. “The Perk Eco program has drastically reduced what we send to landfill. For us, it was just the right thing to do.”
Perk Eco teaches coffee shops how to implement a small eco fee on each single-use cup. This fee directly supports the cost of the recycling pickup.
The recycling is collected from the coffee shop by a carbon-offset hybrid-electric courier and sent to Vancouver, BC for processing. One tree is planted for every pickup that occurs, and at the end of the year, the coffee shop will get an auditable tracking report showing them how much waste they diverted from landfills.