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Are Coffee Shops Environmentally Friendly?

Coffee shops often boast about offering free-trade brews in an effort to support sustainable development and better trading options for coffee growers around the world. However, when it comes to being environmentally forward thinking, those same cafés often keep relatively mum, and with good reason: Most cities can't recycle carry-out coffee cups because they contain a unique plastic interior coating, designed to keep the drink hot. So even when consumers throw their empty cups into recycling bins, the vast majority of them end up in landfills due to the difficulty of processing the inner lining. In the United Kingdom alone, approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away every year. However, there may be change on the horizon; in March 2018, Starbucks pledged $10 million USD in an effort to come up with truly recyclable cups by 2021.

Something's brewing:

  • Coffee beans aren't beans; they are actually seeds that come from flowering shrubs.
  • Brazil produces approximately one-third of the world's coffee, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.
  • Since 1971, Starbucks has grown from a single Seattle shop to a worldwide presence with 29,000 stores. In China alone, the company is now opening approximately one new location a day.
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