6 October 2020 – A series of experiments to test environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable coffee cups is underway in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. The initiative, spearheaded by Zero Cup initiative in cooperation with UNDP ’s Accelerator Lab, is an attempt to reduce the amount of rubbish going into landfills or ending up as litter in the streets and waterways.
Most paper cups are coated with plastic film to prevent leakage, but this makes them difficult to recycle or to compost. Iryna Myronova, executive director of Zero Waste Lviv, said that given the amount of disposable tableware used daily, much of which ends up littering our cities, rivers and parks, a solution must be found, “before we are all buried in our own rubbish.”
Myronova said the city spends a lot of money sending such disposable food and beverage utensils, including coffee cups, to landfills. “Since the cups are quite bulky and lightweight, they quickly fill street litter bins, and, as a result, these bins need to be emptied several times a day,” she said.
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Manal Fouani said she hopes the experiments are able to identify viable solutions that can be upscaled to a level where they are both profitable for the businesses and good for the planet. “That would be a win-win-win situation for the coffeeshops, the consumers and the planet,” she said, adding that any benefits could extend far beyond Ukraine.
“The UNDP Accelerator Lab in Ukraine is but one of 90 such labs supporting activities in 114 countries,” she said. “As such they constantly share lessons and experiences so the results can be quickly upscaled globally.”
The Lviv experiments are testing three different approaches: 1) providing a discount for customers who bring their own cup; 2) selling coffee in an edible cup; and 3) encouraging those who buy coffee in a disposable cup to come the next time with their own cup and get a discount. During the trial, interviewers working at designated locations will collect information from customers and staff to determine the most successful strategy. The interviewers will also find out where disposable cups are usually thrown away.
Myronova said reducing the amount of coffee cups being thrown away will have a major impact on improving the environment in Ukraine. A recent study in Lviv discovered that coffee cups make up 20 percent of the waste in a typical garbage can. During the pre-lockdown period, one coffee shop sold about 500 cups of coffee per day, all of which ended up in litter bins.
The initiative was supported by the partner coffee shops, Kredens Cafe and Halytska 4. Anyone wishing to become an interviewer is welcome to contact Zero Waste Lviv at email@example.com
Zero Waste Lviv is a community established at the end of 2016 as a volunteer counselling centre at the Lviv City Council on waste management and prevention. In 2018 Zero Waste Lviv was registered as an NGO. Its mission is to promote the implementation of zero waste principles in Ukraine via establishing Lviv as a model municipality setting standards for other cities.
UNDP Ukraine’s Accelerator Lab is a global UNDP initiative aimed at identifying, elaborating and scaling-up innovative and sustainable solutions for local communities. Sixty Accelerator Labs teams are serving 78 countries to tackle 21st century development challenges.
Yuliia Samus, UNDP in Ukraine Communication Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, +38 044 254 0035
Iryna Myronova, Executive Director of Zero Waste Lviv NGO, email@example.com, +38 067 548 6038