4,500 reusable cups to be issued to UCC freshers

Thousands of reusable travel cups will be distributed to freshers starting college in Ireland’s ‘greenest’ university later this month.

All retailers on University College Cork’s Green Flag campus will offer a drinks discount to every student user who presents their bamboo mug for a tea or coffee.

The measure is thanks to a collaboration between UCC, Cork City Council, and the Southern Region Waste Management Office (SRWMO), which was announced yesterday as the first round CAO offers were released.

UCC’s Students’ Union approached Cork City Council last autumn after UCC’s library banned disposable cups. Student leaders said they were concerned about the environmental impact of disposable cups and wanted to do something about it.

The council set up a collaboration with SRWMO which, in turn, worked with the students to test the benefits a €10,000 grant for reusable cups would have on the student body. A pilot scheme involving some 1,200 students ran last year and tested three proposed travel cups — a thermal mug made from plastic, a bamboo travel mug, and a grippy travel mug made from plastic.

A student survey identified the bamboo travel mug as the most popular choice. Now, all UCC Freshers are to be issued with their reusable cup from August 27. Some 4,500 will be distributed to incoming students.

The city council’s chief scientist, Mary Walsh, said the council is encouraged to see UCC playing its part in the fight against single-use disposable coffee cups.

“We are proud to have been involved in this initiative and it builds on the action that we have taken against single-use plastics in our own local authority offices,” she said.

SRWMO’s Pauline McDonagh said 200m beverage cups are disposed of annually in Ireland, the equivalent of around 22,000 every hour.

“Coffee cups currently can’t be recycled as part of the mixed recycling waste stream as they would need to be collected separately and presented clean, loose, and dry,” she said.

“The obvious response to this problem is to consume bought beverages in a reusable cup. If this is in a cafe setting, why not sit and sip using the coffee shop’s in-house ceramic cups. If on the go, invest in a reusable cup that you bring with you wherever you go.”

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