We all want to do our best to try to help the environment. The UK’s millennials, quite rightly, value sustainable packaging and produce, so you want to be meeting this demand in your college or university. One of the most prevalent issues right now, is the vast amount of waste polluting our planet, but what can we do to help? One of the things that Tchibo Coffee Service is looking at is the issue of coffee cup wastage. That’s why we recently introduced Vegware to our Espresso Warehouse range. Vegware manufacture disposables, like take away coffee cups and lids, out of plants – not plastic. This means that they are fully compostable – but what does that actually mean? And what’s the difference between compostable, biodegradable and recyclable? It’s confusing. We know. Here’s our guide to compostable cups that will answer all the questions you and your students have!

I don’t know the difference between compostable, biodegradable and recyclable – help! 

Compostable (adjective)

capable of being used as compost, a mixture of decayed plants and vegetable waste which is added to the soil to help plants grow.


Biodegradable (adjective)

breaks down or decays naturally without any special scientific treatment and can therefore be thrown away without causing pollution.


Recyclable (adjective)

waste or materials can be processed and used again.

plant vegware

The key difference between compostable and biodegradable is the timescales. Compostable means that the product will break down within 12 weeks, whereas a biodegradable product could take much longer. Recyclable simply means it can be used again.

Vegware holds the highest compostability certification of any UK manufacturer.

So what are the Vegware cups made of?

Plants, not plastic! The outer wall of the cup is made from recycled board, the inner wall from sustainable sources and the inner lining is made from polylactic acid (PLA), a compostable and heat resistant alternative to plastic, made from plants.

Food and drink packaging is often made from card and plastic, which combined with food contamination, creates great difficulty when recycling. Vegware products are designed for industrial composting with food waste, so food contamination is not a hindrance but a requirement for the product to break down.

Vegware compostable cycle

What about the cup lids?

Vegware lids are also made from plant-based PLA and are heat resistant up to 85oC.


How should we dispose of the cups?

Compostable packaging needs the correct conditions to break down. Industrial composting creates the perfect environment for this. You need to check with your local waste collector that they have an existing collection route taking Vegware.

If your site has an outdoor space and the resources to manage it, an on-site composter could be a solution.

Here’s how Dundee and Angus college managed their compost with their horticulture students:

Video credit: Vegware Limited

Becoming a part of the plant-based revolution means you can reduce your carbon footprint and help your campus go green!

Find out more at the Vegware website or in our Espresso Warehouse catalogue.

Get in touch with us to discuss coffee and hot beverage options for your college or university.


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