Cups, cutlery and food waste – environmental initiatives with tangible results

Published: 20 Sep 2018

In just one week, Hertfordshire County Council has avoided the use of 3,500 disposable coffee cups.

As part of its drive to reduce waste, the council ended the supply of takeaway single-use cups from coffee shops at its three main sites on 3 September.

Now, any council employee wishing to buy a hot drink to take away from one of the coffee shops (located at County Hall in Hertford, Apsley Campus in Hemel Hempstead or Farnham House in Stevenage) must bring their own lidded cup or purchase a reusable one at the till.

Similar waste reduction initiatives by the council include:

  • Removing single-use plastic cups at water points and replacing them with hard plastic reusable beakers, cutting out the use of 2,500 a week across the three main sites since June

  • Saving on average 7,000 pieces of plastic cutlery per week by offering only metal cutlery in staff restaurants since May

  • Recycling more than 10 tonnes of food waste since introducing food waste bins across the four main sites at the end of April this year. The food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion facility where it is turned into an agricultural fertiliser and methane gas used to create renewable energy.

Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Waste Management, Terry Hone, said: “We’ve made great strides to end consumption of single-use plastic at council offices and I’m delighted with how positive everyone has been in embracing this for the good of our environment.

“I’d like to challenge other businesses and every household in the county to follow our example and take steps to reduce waste further, too.”

There are lots of ways you can reduce your own waste. Our top tips are:

  1. Carry a refillable bottle with you, preferably stainless steel or one made from recycled plastic. Look at the Refill campaign for friendly places to refill your bottle.

  2. Use a reusable shopping bag – versions made from cloth or recycled material are environmentally friendly alternatives. Leave bags in the boot of your car, and a fold-up one in your handbag or rucksack so it's always handy on the go.

  3. Carry a reusable flask for hot drinks. Ask coffee chains to fill your flask. You'll reduce plastic waste and could avoid the ‘Latte Levy’, saving you money.