Reusable vs Disposable (Biodegradable) - What is better?

Globelet began in 2012 as an association between two friends who had no intention of creating a business – we worked voluntarily and with a sole aim of reducing the number of throw away cups being used locally. 

It has now become a full fledging business to try and cope with the issues surrounding disposable cups. 

1) How can a disposable product be ecological?

Even if biodegradable, a cup requires the consumption of raw materials for its manufacture and if this product is only useable once the production volumes increase commensurately in proportion to the volume of cups required.

A container produced for a single use is not environmentally friendly. Biodegradable objects are not eliminated immediately and can take a significant amount of time to degrade furthermore, biodegradable cups need to be sorted perfectly to be used for compost.

2) Globelet cups are made from polypropylene plastic, a derivative of petroleum.

Our cups are washable and (where avoidable) do not end their life in the rubbish after being used, being either kept by the user to be used again domestically or reintegrated into our service and reused, having been washed to Australasian hygiene standards.

It can be used many, many times since we are now looking into how to remove the printed image (only currently available on silkscreen cups) and reprint the cup (exclusive Globelet this year). 

The Globelet cup is plastic, but is not a disposable cup.

The priority is therefore to reduce the use of throw away cups and to reduce the production of biodegradable objects.

The best waste is no waste! To convince you of our commitment and our environmental convictions, I would like to share some of the innovations that we have achieved.

 • The technical characteristics of our cups mean that we can wash them using 6 cl of water.

• Our wash stations are spread over strategic points to be as close as possible to where the cups will be used while ensuring economic sustainability of the concept and of our organisation.

• We are examining creating one of the worlds first reusable cups that is constituted of Algae and there for reusable but can also go back into the Ocean. 

 • Finally, we are examining a project which when proven will permit the reuse of 98% of the washing water while maintaining the current hygiene standards.

I refer you to the study that was made in Germany by an independent consulting firm at the 2006 Football World Cup.

http://www.cupconcept.de/en/news-und-trade-fairs/news/lifecycleassessment.html

The conclusions of this study can therefore be summarised as follows:

• The disposable cup is 25 times more polluting than the reusable cup,
• The biodegradable cup is 20 times more polluting than the reusable cup. In seven games played at Twickenham, it can be estimated that over 1,000,000 disposable pint cups were used, for a total amount of nearly 10 tons of wasted plastic, calculated at 8 grams per disposable cup. This represents a volume of some 70 m3 of plastics in the form of disposable 60-centiliter cups.

The same reasoning can be applied to thousands of events, which would thus generate considerable waste reduction. For our project, the use of plastics is not an issue; in fact, plastic is an interesting material because it is very solid and therefore can be washed and reused!

Moreover, non-reusable cups, such as those which were used during the Rolling Stones and UB40 tour and afterwards recycled, have not proven to be as interesting a solution as that of reusable ones but are nevertheless preferable to the complete wastage of disposable cups!

The idea is therefore to replace the wastage of the disposable, and therefore non-sustainable, product by the use of a cleaning service.

The waste water produced by the Globelet washing procedure is non-polluting as we use a washing solution that is environmentally friendly and created by ECOSTORE.

If all of the Australasia, America, the United Kingdom and Europe were to stop using disposable plastic cups, local cleaning services could be developed. Studies have also shown that with a higher capital investment it would be possible to install cleaning systems that filter and clean the water used in the process so that it can be reused.

This investment has been calculated at €200,000. The use of disposable plastic products will be forbidden in France in 2020 and other countries are considering the same regulations. Washing cups is tedious work. 

At some festivals in Europe cups have been cleaned and reused for 8 years. Some of the cups used at Twickenham have been washed for reuse five times.

Therefore, even better than recycling, our service offers reusability – and the best waste is non existent waste! We hope that the people who decide to keep their cups will reuse them instead of continuing to buy disposable ones. I

In countries like Germany, France, or Spain, where the project is well advanced compared to the United Kingdom, people are often seen using reusable cups at picnics rather than disposable plastic ones.

In 2015 we decided to branch out into Australia to help widen our reach and are in the throes of establishing washing and drying stations here in Australia.

Thank you for helping us to prevent wastage. We are not a large company and it is not our intention to give lessons, but we think that it is no longer possible or logical to continue to use a product once and simply throw it away.

Ryan Everton Director Globelet