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« Two years later | Main | On scientific freedom »

Thinking, or not thinking, about coffee

Today's "stupidity signalling" story is the mainstream media's excitement over a report that we are throwing away three billion disposable coffee cups each year. It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that disposable cups are disposed of on such a prodigious scale because they are made of very cheap, very abundant materials and need little energy along the way. Nor do they seem to have clocked that ceramic cups are much more expensive because they require huge amounts of energy to make.

Still, this nonsense does fill up their pages for them.

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Reader Comments (107)

An alternative way to look at this, is to find out how much retailers would knock off the set price of a cup of coffee for those that provided their own cups, and took them away for cleaning and reuse in their own time. This would enable those proud to signal their virtue, the opportunity not to advertise their favoured coffee bar, and announce it to all those looking at them with admiration.

Green Blob scam artists could then sell special 'vitrtuous' coffee cups, with catchy logos and slogans, changing weekly, so people would want to buy new ones on a regular basis, and throw the old ones into the cupboard under the stairs with all the other pointless reusable rubbish, that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Coffee Mugs, could become Mindless. Unthinking. Gullible. Suckers! (especially if a sraw was provided to match the mindset)

Mar 16, 2016 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"Fearnley-Whittingstall's next series was TV Dinners, in which he notoriously flambéed and puréed a human placenta to then serve as pâté during one episode[7] — the pâté was "much enjoyed by the baby's family and friends."[6]"

Real re-cyclers like campaign instigator, TV chef Fearnley-Whittingstall, apparently eat their young.

Mar 16, 2016 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Mar 16, 2016 at 2:37 PM | Registered Commentertomo

" is there an organ of central government enforcing this ?"

Yes but this is a family blog and we can not mention it.

Mar 16, 2016 at 4:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Plastic Bag Revenue Wardens? ... you are kidding? ... please....

I wish.

The chip shop guy seemed deadly serious.

I mean, think about it. How do they enforce such a scheme?

I suggest asking any small shop-owner (an endangered species but not one the eco-loons give a toss about) to see what their take on it is.

You might not be safe from burglary or vandalism but rest easy in the knowledge that no shops will be giving you plastic bags for free while the Bag Police stand guard!

Mar 16, 2016 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown


Is your chip man in the Republic? The UK bag regulations are (very slightly) less stupid, in that they don't apply to small businesses.

Mar 16, 2016 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFen Tiger

Salopian & kellydown, why can'we recycle coffee cups and plastic bags into traffic cones, which can then be stored indefinitely on Motorways without evidence of decay or degradation as millions of motorists can confirm?

Mar 16, 2016 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Deposits on bottles and cans are good, not for the re-cycling thinghy though. People who don't care will toss the empties anyway, and people with zero money will pick them up to claim the deposits. My chum and I made use of this in California's Yosemite valley after a long climbing trip. I had just enough cash left for the bus fare to San Fancisco airport and the air fare home. We wanted some beer and wine for our last night. A morning's trip round the bins and verges at the hots spots in the valley, and me and my mate had enough cash for a decent night out. Essentially we got a modest wage for some public service. And then some beer.

Mar 16, 2016 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

I can get a permanent steel mug for my coffee, but that took a lot of energy to make. And let's say I get my coffee and take it shopping or to a meeting. If a disposable cup I can toss when done but a steel mug I must then carry around with me until I go back to my car (oops, no car in the perfect world, oh well, carry it around all day).
Does remind me of the disposable diaper panic. My kids were even berated in jr high about this on a field trip to the land fill (yes indeed). But having used a diaper service (requiring a bucket of slop to hold dirty diapers until diaper service arrives) or washing them ourselves (did the washing machine ever get truly clean after?) I can only say that anyone promoting cloth diapers as a big issue must not have kids or is nuts.

Mar 16, 2016 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

"Despite the fact the research it refers to points to disposable paper cups possibly being more energy and resource efficient than ceramic the stories conclusion is that disposable paper cups are wasteful."


Probably hand washing a ceramic cup uses more energy than is used to a paper cup.

Mar 16, 2016 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterwert

"The obvious greeny solution is hemp cups - optionally edible." --JamesG

Here in California, they'd strive for optionally smokeable.

@michael hart, Mar 16, 2016 at 10:50 AM

Like blunt scissors for children, it keeps them busy and distracted, and not playing with something more harmful.

I remember encountering those at prep school aged five and wondering (in those days you didn't question a teacher) why we had to use such useless things when I used proper scissors, hammers, hatchets, knives etc at home. In P4 we were doing an art project that involved intricate cutting and the blunt scissors were useless. Next art day I brought in a No. 3 surgical scalpel with 10A blade, teacher saw me using it and was impressed. Asked me if I would share with others and told them to be careful as it was very sharp. No outrage bus fired up by other parents - common sense prevailed in those days.

@English Pensioner, Mar 16, 2016 at 10:27 AM

A lot of re-cycling appears to me to take far more energy than simply dumping items in landfill, of which we have plenty in the UK. I'd be interested to know if any serious study has been carried out regarding the energy consumed in the home by washing items for recycling, by the vehicles which collect then, at the depots where they are sorted, transporting the different items to various locations for re-use and in re-using the materials compared with starting from basics. In addition, what is the cost of the manpower involved in doing this work?
No one ever seems to consider the overall cost from end to end, just statements like 'it saves energy to make bottles from re-cycled glass' with out counting the cost of collecting and sorting the glass.

Tim Worstall has covered this subject in detail.

Summary: Before the EU green lunacy we recycled those materials which were economically positive (ie made a profit) to recycle. Recycling other materials due to legislative compulsion is economically negative.

@Micky H Corbett, Mar 16, 2016 at 11:12 AM

I was thinking the same thing. You burn the cups and use the ash. It would be a matter of working out the turnaround rate for growing new trees though I'm sure there are other considerations.

I would guess DRAX burns more trees in one hour that the world's annual tree requirement for paper cups.

@michael hart, Mar 16, 2016 at 2:27 PM

If they required dogs to wash their own re-usable nappies (that's diapers for US readers), then their owners wouldn't need to buy non-branded plastic bags to hang dog-lead from trees in my local forest.

The dog poo campaign is a prime example of the "if I don't like it then it should be illegal" types. Not pleasant if your shoe contacts it, but no big deal. Certainly not as bad as bird poo hitting you.

Those hanging bags in woods, forests and other wild areas really annoy me. Dog poo is a natural substance same as all the deer, rabbit, fox, badger, squirrel poo one observes. Leave it where it lands, nature will recycle it.

Why are there no white dog poos anymore? Were they deemed racist white supremacy? Does dog food now contain brown colouring so poos are brown? Brown dog poos: are they racist?

@davidchappell, Mar 16, 2016 at 2:41 PM

The people who whinge about plastic bottles were obviously not born and brought up in the pre-plastic era when all bottles were glass. What would you prefer - litter of easily removable plastic or a load of broken glass?

In UK the most commonly purchased glass bottles (beer and soft drinks) had a deposit and children collected them from anywhere and returned to a shop for cash. When the 4p deposit would buy you 20 "four for a penny" black-jacks it was a lucrative bonus when playing outside.

@Fen Tiger, Mar 16, 2016 at 5:24 PM

Is your chip man in the Republic? The UK bag regulations are (very slightly) less stupid, in that they don't apply to small businesses.

Scotchland have there own (stupid) law:

Legislation was passed by Scottish Parliament, on 20th October 2014, that requires ALL retailers (food and non-food) to charge a minimum of 5p for each new single-use carrier bag (including paper, those made from some plant based materials and plastic). The aim is to encourage bag re-use and reduce the visible impact of litter.

If your business employs 10 or more full time equivalent staff, you need to keep, retain and supply information about the bags supplied and monies received as a result of the charge. [To allow Local Authority bag inspectors to audit your compliance]

Madness, lunacy, politics of children/dictators.

Mar 16, 2016 at 10:07 PM | Registered CommenterPcar

We had a ban on plastic bags (well, a 5 cent tax) in Dallas county TX, which is roughly the Dallas city bit of the Dallas-Fort Worth 'Metroplex'. The ban lasted from January 2015 until June, when common sense reappeared. People shopped elsewhere, in a town where you always shop by car, you drive across the county line.

Mar 16, 2016 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

(The story of the Dallas ban is more complicated than I wrote, but I thought I wouldn't bother y'all with it.)

Mar 17, 2016 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

rhoda, I frequently stop in supermarkets, buy sandwiches etc and eat in the car. The previously free polythene bag was useful for putting wrappers and other rubbish into, before placing in a rubbish bin. I now have small pedal bin liners in my car, for the same purpose. Many people have reverted to throwing rubbish out of their car windows.

It is amazing how far some burger wrappers and containers have travelled in a car before being thrown out of the window. Whether the distance travelled equates to consumption time, or whether the scenic location was the point of consumption, or whether the smell of stale burger fat distracted the driver from other activities, I don't know. But I feel that the subject, if studied scientifically, could produce more beneficial results for the environment than more climate science.

Mar 17, 2016 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It's wrong to claim that everything pre-plastic was glass.

who can forget the jubilee ?

an impossible four sided shape, it came out just as people could afford fridges to freeze them, and in perfect synch with other ineffable joys , like Catweazle, Stig of the dump, Tom Sawyer and my favourite martian.

if only the green gobshites could conjure up such joy

Mar 17, 2016 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

GC, 12:16am: Totally concur with you on your latter point. I see discarded McDonkey/KFC/ Burger King cartons and bags dumped on our local road every day, despite the nearest outlets being at least 20 minutes away

Mar 17, 2016 at 12:46 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

so at the end because we will still use fossil fuel , we will have to deal with a huge amount of "wastes" from fuel production...

Mar 17, 2016 at 6:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterlemiere

This would not happen if they were feminist disposable coffee cups.

Speaking of which, I am thrilled the colossal scientific contributions of feminism are finally going to be applied to cloud modeling.

Climate denial is all but dead.

Mar 17, 2016 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyla

On Scottish windfarms ruining the view: ‘Natural Scotland’ photographer attacks SNP’s wind-farm gold rush. 2013

Mar 17, 2016 at 8:34 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

In fact using paper cups instead of plastic is very much against the cradle-to-cradle design philosophy because converting trees into paper in the first place is self-defeating if you regard trees as far more useful in their tradition job of converting CO2 to oxygen. See...

To prove the point they produced their book on "a fully-recyclable waterproof polymer with the heft of good paper and more strength, a substance that reflects the right amount of light, yet holds the ink fast." and it doesn't seem any more expensive.

There is a captivating TED talk about cradle-to-cradle design here:

There is an interesting comment to the effect that 'yes this is all very well but should we really be producing so much stuff in the first place?"; a question to which Stephen Bayley had already provided a stinging riposte; "I'm bored with guilty and technologically illiterate environmental Luddites describing a future of guilt and privation led in caves. There's an alternative responsible future persuasively offered by Braungart and McDonough. The survival of the planet can be re-stated in terms of stimulus, opportunity, challenge and reward".

Mar 17, 2016 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

pcar - white dog poo - you don't see many because people feed their dogs kibble or cooked food which produces smelly brown sludge. Feed the dog a raw meat diet, including bones, and they will produce nice, virtually non-smelly, firm white poo. Fewer problems with their teeth as the sinews clean off any tartar. My dog very happy and healthy aged 12.

As for the [unmentionable] idiots who chuck their junk out of car windows, a similar treatment for them as dog poo bags hung from trees would be a reasonable answer. I berate the kids for never cleaning out their cars, but I'd rather that than they chuck it out.

Mar 17, 2016 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

Here are a few random, very unrecyclable and throwaway un PC thoughts.

Has Leadsom really thought through what 'zero carbon' would actually entail?

I know that, Leadsom she hasn't ever given any real consideration because it's all a charade and isn't that the problem? Vacuous virtue signallers and what do they do, when there is nowhere left to go?

As we can clearly observe, in the UK across the whole of UK society, in this brave new PC sealed world jerry-built, the land we once knew has been razed.
Deconstructed, the PC brigade, the greens, the diversity stasi, the straightbashers of the queer brigade, the SJW's the Luvvies, champagne Socialists and media beholden, command the stage, society has caved in - caved right in to the new way of, Politically correct world... ethos - if one could call it that.

But, for the greens, the labourites, tories, EUphiliacs et al its all and be all is never enough is it?

Virtue signalling, demanding "zero Carbon!" Dig around, demand a queer cake in a carefully chosen bakery in Northern Ireland or, gay couple of lads seek out a Christian God fearing couple who run a B&B - haven't you won the day lads, even Tatchell now blenches at this sordid overreach.
Foreign students on overly generous bursaries warm up the locals to demand that statues be removed from august institutions on a some ill founded, ridiculous pretext mouthing "because by our standards we think he was a racist".

Imposing your one eyed view on all of society - isn't that all just so cool? Look at me, because I care so much more than you do!

We all care for the NHS because the NHS has some very cool propaganda and despite sending you off on the Liverpool pathway - "because Nanny knows best and btw we need your bed". Impregnable egos on water tight employment contracts meddle in health trust management save costs to boost pensions and salaries while on the wards endless malpractice abounds. Mass immigration and Gordon Brown's PFI brilliance sends bills, budgets spiralling upwards and into orbit and sorry mate - "we've no beds" or money, I wonder why? but God aren't we doing so much good! Never mind the ethos!

Principles, principles, between a rock and a hard place.

At the recent LSEs Islamic society banquet, women were segregated by a seven foot high screen and get this, they had to use separate telephone numbers in order to purchase book the tickets for said do! Never mind said General Sec LSE NUS Ms Buckley-Irvine, "it's not for me to decide what is right or wrong in our Islamic society and they are one of the most inclusive societies I have ever worked with" aye so that's alright then and on those who made criticism of her outpourings. Replied Ms Buckley-Irvine, "it is unfeminist to lecture other women on what they should do and think and I include Muslim women in that."
I wonder what this august lady of principle - Ms Buckley-Irvine, would have said if any society other than its Islamic soc would have screened off its women folk, you'd have heard the scream as far away as Banshee village west Bantry bay. Craven surrender and crass equivocation never gets in the way of principles at NUS LSE branch.

Green agenda good, green agenda makes energy expensive - good.....? In winter people die because of the cold, expensive energy means, they can't afford to heat their homes BUT - ignore facts because "we're doing good..................... right?"

Agrarian Utopia, how Islamic and back to the caves it is and in all senses but by God, we never deserted our principles - now did we?

It's a wear it on your sleeve world - caring, sharing society, share your principles, spread that hypocrisy and liberally shout if from the rooftops.......

"now pass me my take away ethically sourced coffee in that ever so nice paper cup...."

"Ooh, I feel so virtuous, pass me my phone, I'll tell the world, how green is that?"

Mar 17, 2016 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

the "virtue" signalling is going to win the day anyway with the present crop of innumerate clowns in the establishment, but I would think washing a ceramic costs about as much energy as making a new paper/plastic cup.

Washing a ceramic is done at 70degrees so only destroys 99.99% of the microbes of the previous 10drinkers that day.
A dishwasher isnt an autoclave so you have billions of nice and not so nice bacteria of the whole neighbourhood that you welcome in.

Mar 17, 2016 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusCold

VenusCold, dish washing is not one of my areas of expertise, but I think commercial dishwashers have to go a bit hotter than 70degrees, for sterilisation purposes.

Bleach kills 99.9% of germs, and temperature 99.9% of germs. Is it the same germs that are resistant?

Mar 17, 2016 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

For those talking about washing ceramics cups costing more energy than paper cups etc.
I will ask you this, if that is the case why don't you use plastic or paper cups in your home?
Do you actually wash a cup on it's own or with lot's of other "washing up"?
From that study, a cycle of 500 uses is what, 50-100 days of use, whereas most ceramic or glass cups last me many years, I have glass cups that are at least 30 years old.

Mar 17, 2016 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

Who washes coffee cups?

Mar 17, 2016 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

And I've yet to see a non-disposable cup not dispose of itself by attempting flight off the top of the car. I think their error is in the usual attempt at sideways takeoff; I've never seen one try to take off into the wind.

Mar 17, 2016 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I dare say these commercial washing systems kill most of the germs during the process. If they're washing wine/beer/spirit glasses, the alcohol will probably kill off the rest! (Any excuse). On a slightly different note, surely a little bit of bacteria is good for us, even the unpleasant stuff! Similarly, a woman giving birth in a home, with all its is relatively "safe" bacrteria, far safer than doing so in sterile environment of a hopsital.

Mar 17, 2016 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

A C Osborn. I hate plastic cups, as opposed to ceramic mugs for tea/coffee. So do most people. That is why people don't use them at home.

Being old enough to remember milkmen delivering pints of milk in glass bottles, I still regard Tetrapaks as a hazard to modern lifestyles, and the supermarkets have generally abandoned them in favour of plastic bottles.

The coffee bar culture, and takeaway coffee industry, would never have got off the ground without disposable cups that people were happy to use. Whether the cup design evolved directly or indirectly from McDonalds et al, I don't know, but McDonalds et al did revolutionise the 'restaurant' industry by almost eradicating 'washing up' with the disposable plates, cutlery (lack of) and cups.

From a litter, and waste disposal point of view, it is crazy, and I share the majority of the population's concern . Businesses pay rates (tax) . They also pay for the amount of rubbish requiring collection from their premises. Burger bars etc, do not (I understand) pay for the litter emerging from their premises which is then deposited near and far, that someone else has to tidy up.

As burger bars keep accurate records of food delivered and sold, plus disposable cups , wrappers etc, plus they know how much they pay to have their rubbish removed from their premises, they must know how much rubbish is being scattered outside their premises, so .......

Mar 17, 2016 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

if the dishwashers were set at 90degrees, they would sometimes become a pressurecooker, exploding a building and such. the thermostats are simple with 10 degrees tolerance and they age

and then there is the lost ime if people have to drink in situ
somebody wasring 6mins extra in a cafeteria is going to cost the ceo entrepreneur 1/10th manhour = 4quid. you can produce a lorry cups with 4quid.

also dishwashers break down..whe the heating elment gives up you get a period of halfwashed cups full of ebola from your neighbour, before the staff notice.
so then you have to book appointments,in the ceo entrepreneurs time, with the gp who cost 60- an hour

Mar 17, 2016 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenuscold

Contrary to Salopian's point about recycling consumer plastic, my son owns a consumer plastic recycling plant in Alabama that recycles millions of tons of the stuff every year through very expensive machines made it Italy that convert it into food safe pellets and flakes, approved by the EPA and the Food and Drug administration as being food safe, and sells it to Pepsi and Coca Cola, who convert it back into bottles which contain 10% of his product.

Phil Howerton

Mar 17, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Howerton

Paul Howerton, thanks for that. Is your son's business running without subsidies?

It has always intrigued me how the soft drinks industry has escaped the wrath of the EPA in the USA. Is the 10% recycled content replacing something else, and if so, is it cheaper and better? If so brilliant! Will they be opening in the EU?

Mar 17, 2016 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Surely, recycling has been very successful in dispersing a huge amount of waste plastic by mandating storage of heavy plastic bins at every home in the country. Further recycling has necessitated extra bins. Thus, the country has cleverly generated a distributed strategic reserve of plastic for future generations in the enlightened zero carbon world.

Mar 17, 2016 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

3 billion cups, what a bunch of lazy bustards. Is there no coffee at work or at home? Get out of bed 10 minutes earlier.

Mar 17, 2016 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

EForster, agreed, a bit like the invention of clingfilm. Rather than throw away left over food, clingfilm allowed us to wrap it, and put it in the fridge. And throw it out a week later.

Mar 17, 2016 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I joined a Company in 1993 that was recycling plastic. Initially they bought used X-ray films, but then switched to ground up plastic bottles when they needed more than 50 tonnes per annum. Supposedly the recycling firm was removing the cap and label and washing the bottles before grinding them. They were very slapdash and every month or so the reactor had to be cleaned of about a tonne of thermoplastic goo clinging to the stirrer.
That is the major problem with recycling. Getting the material clean and segregated into one type. Often the recycled material can only be used at a small proportion due to loss of properties i.e. aluminium cans aren't used in new cans (or weren't).

Mar 17, 2016 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

GC, 10:04:

But please remember that the cling film that the food is wrapped in is not recyclable and must go in the wheelie bin (which is only emptied once every three weeks).

Whilst the food that was wrapped in said cling film must go in the green bin (which is collected every week - provided that you firstly put it in the biodegradable starch-based bags, that you put in your green recycling caddy that you keep in your kitchen, until they are full, when you tie them securely and put them in the green bin - assuming the fecking biogdegradable bag hasn't already started to dissolve).

At least that's the way Powys Council expect recycling to work.

Mar 17, 2016 at 10:36 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I haven't shopped at Loblaws since they announced the 5¢ plastic bag tax -my money- was being donated to WWF.

Mar 18, 2016 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

GC, 5:21pm:

The penny just dropped re Phil Howerton. He's been here before regarding his son's (Phil Howerton) business:

"My son and his business partner operate the fifth largest plastic recycling company in the US. Several years ago they built a plant in Alabama which recycles consumer plastic. They invested in the best equipment available: from Italy. They produce both post-consumer safe plastic flake and pellets. Their product has been approved now for several years as food safe by the FDA. They have contracts with several large soft drink companies and if you buy one of those companies' drinks, about ten percent of the bottle comes from their plant. They also have contracts with other plastic molding companies who manufacture packaging for products sold to companies like Walmart, which requires that their packaging is post- consumer safe. In the US the government requires that many such packaging be post-consumer safe.

He took me down a year ago to see the plant. They have a lot as big as a dozen football fields where the baled consumer plastic is stored. The day I was there, they had fifteen million pounds of consumer plastic waiting to be processed and more coming in all the time. Any of this stiff that's put in landfill will be there for two hundred years or more.

I just talked to him and he said that when the oil price goes down, the waste management companies who have contracts with municipalities are sensitive to the price fall and some smaller municipalities will simply stop collecting the stuff and put it in a landfill. But because of the requirements in the US, he doesn't see a massive abandonment of the practice of collection of consumer plastic."

He didn't respond then to my comment that US and EU policies were different, so don't hold your breath for a reply to your question.

Mar 18, 2016 at 2:27 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian, but are the Green bins made out of recycled plastic, that can be recycled into something useful when everybody is tired of recycling? This is the unsustainable nature of the sustainable culture.

Some years ago, my then local authority supplied me with a small purple recycling bin thingy. Unfortunately, I must have binned the leaflets telling me what to do with it, so I left it outside. A neighbourhood cat adopted it as a litter tray. About the same size, no lid, and no smell absorbant litter either, so very smelly. I couldn't fault the cats logic, but I placed the small recycling bin in the larger bin for non recyclable rubbish, which by then, it was.

Mar 18, 2016 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Salopian 2:27, posts crossed!

Interesting that you recall Phil Howerton. I am genuinely intrigued by this plastic recycling business. About 10 years ago, I was in Croatia, and larger supermarkets ran a recycling scheme whereby you could get money back for empty bottles and aluminium drink cans etc. In the same way that people have mentioned on this thread, money could be made. Aluminium drinks cans, I can understand, glass bottles are not economic to recycle or reuse in the UK, but a 'bounty' was payable in Croatia. But a bounty was also payable on plastic bottles. I have never understood how there was sufficient money to be made, to make a bounty payable. This was before Croatia entered the EU, so I don't know whether recycling was one of the targets that they had to meet, to join the EU Club?

Pensioners would 'patrol' tourist hot-spot litter bins. It was normal to separate 'bounty' rubbish, into a separate bag, and place that next to a bin, rather than in it, and this made recycling an easier and less messy trade for the pensioners. What happened to the plastic bottles? Paul Howertons post reminded me!

Mar 18, 2016 at 3:12 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Do not know about UK but Australia uses toilet paper at about 1800 km per hour, rather more than the speed of sound at sea level.

Mar 18, 2016 at 3:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

GC, 2:46am:

Well I would hope that all these plastic green bins, along with the red (plastics and metal), aqua (glass), blue (paper and card - excluding wrapping paper and wallpaper of course) not mention the black wheelie bins are made of recycled plastic.

Unfortunately the 20 page, bilingual, multicoloured A5 booklet (with illustrations that looked they had been drawn by pupils of a special needs class) provided by Powys Council failed to say if these bins were actually made of recycled plastic - I am saying this from memory as the final missive on the booklet was to recycle it, so I shoved it in the blue bin - I'm assuming that I put it in the correct bin as I haven't been fined by the Welsh Bin Gestapo.

Mar 18, 2016 at 3:18 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I blogged about the coffee cup story here

Mar 18, 2016 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commenter@_environmentor

Geoff Sherrington.
Got a good laugh, but then began to wonder at your figures. If we take an average of 15cm for the length of one piece of loo paper, that means there are 6667 pieces in every kilometre. At a usage rate of 1800 km/hr that translates to Australians using 12,000,600 sheets every hour. At a population of just under 24.5.million people that means the average aussi would have to partake of slightly more than 2 sheets per hour, every hour, day and night. I know that many scatological attributions are made of our cousins down under, but really!

We in the UK probably use 2 sheets per day, a much more leisurely pace.

Mar 18, 2016 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Allan Kendall, 5:06pm:

"We in the UK probably use 2 sheets per day, a much more leisurely pace."

Are you being serious, or this your 'sense of humour' again. " sheets per day, sounds like anal retention.

Mar 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

an even more ecologee friendly way is to just have a jug of hot coffee, customer comes in opens his piehole and you pour the coffee in it ?

Mar 18, 2016 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered Commentervenus

No Salopian, its a gentle way of suggesting that the Australian rate originally quoted was probably incorrect, mistaking km/hr for km/day. Easily done, but yielding hilarious results concerning exceeding the speed of sound. But if you have more data on the subject ......

Mar 18, 2016 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Bag dynamics depend on the number of times reused. On balance, multiple use woven bags made from LDPE with 40% recycled polyethylene are the best choice

Same thing goes for paper cups. Reuse it once and you half the amount of energy/water/ghg. Brew your own at home for the commute, use paper cups and a lot of money is saved esp if you brew the second cup at work.

Mar 19, 2016 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Allan Kendall, 11:31pm: You really should avoid using the word "hilarious", it makes you sound like a Daily Mail sub-editor, rather than a former UEA academic, but then again ....

Mar 19, 2016 at 1:06 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

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