ubc cups

A university in Canada is now charging 25 cents for single-use cups on campus

As schools across the country continue to make changes on campus to counter the effects of climate change and reduce waste, one university is taking a particularly active approach. 

The University of British Columbia has decided to begin charging students 25¢ per single-use coffee cup at all of their UBC Food Service cafes in an effort to encourage students to bring their own reusable mugs. 

And the move certainly isn't an attempt to rip off students. UBC Food Services also announced that they've actually lowered the price of hot drinks by 25¢ — meaning students who bring their own won't just be spared the extra charge, they'll actually receive a discount. 

"Single use coffee cups are a global problem," notes UBC Food Service's online announcement. 

"Canadians use an estimated 1.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, equivalent to more than half a million trees. In Vancouver, we use 2.6 million disposable cups every week."

The announcement also explains that single-use coffee cups are notoriously difficult to recycle and that UBC’s compostable cup, plastic lid and paper sleeve must be placed in multiple sorting stations to be disposed of correctly — something that rarely actually happens.

The cups are lined with plastic (polyethylene), according to UBC Food Services, which makes them waterproof but also difficult to recycle.

The 25¢ surcharge on paper cups is simply a trial in order to determine whether it actually reduces waste, though evidence from other universities shows that charging for disposables is an effective method of waste reduction.

"This initiative means customers will experience the bite of paying 25¢ for their single-use paper cup and will hopefully be encouraged to switch to reusable mugs," UBC Food Services wrote of their decision. 

"By separating out the cost of the coffee from the cup, UBC Food Services is taking another step on the path to becoming a truly zero waste sustainable campus community."

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