Kaffeewende at the TUK: enjoying sustainable coffee
With the newly introduced reusable coffee cups, we offer a sustainable alternative to the disposable cups, which are now subject to a charge.
The coffee offered in the canteens and cafeterias of the Studierendenwerk Kaiserslautern is prepared from sustainably certified (organically grown and fairly traded) coffee beans.
The project "Procurement Turnaround" aims to offer sustainable coffee also for the catering of guests and at events.
Hot cast - cold served
[Translate to English:]
Farewell to the free disposable cup
Who am I to change the world? But who am I that I can't at least try!
Not everyone can see at first glance why a new "value-added" cup has been available in the Mensa since 28 August 2017 and why the old-fashioned free disposable cups have largely disappeared. More popular than a people's party, almost every second customer placed their trust in the "To Go" cult object of the past millennium. A disposable cup made it possible to manoeuvre one's own hot drink comfortably from the atrium and to the sunny tables in front of it. In addition, the plastic-coated cardboard is the guarantee for a natural taste experience and with its lightweight structure in terms of robustness hardly to be surpassed. Ultimately, such a disposable cup also ensured that the residual waste containers on campus were well frequented, unless it had previously demonstrated its flying skills in the wind.
The new coffee concept of the Studierendenwerks Kaiserslautern and the Sustainability Office of the TUK focuses on responsible coffee enjoyment in a multifaceted way. The high-quality Arabica coffee beans on offer have been traded fairly since February 2013 and come from controlled organic cultivation. The minimum standards for sustainable environmental and social compatibility are guaranteed by the well-known "Fairtrade" and "Bio" certificates. Brewed with one of the best waters in Germany - the Kaiserslautern drinking water from the Red Hollow - nothing stands in the way of responsible coffee enjoyment.
But what happens after the coffee has been enjoyed with the waste that is produced, which consequently moves into focus in the sense of product responsibility according to the principle from raw material to raw material ("cradle to cradle")? The brewed coffee grounds are transformed into the well-known "PalatiHum" compost by upcycling in the Kapiteltal directly northeast of the city, while also generating district heating and electricity. Porcelain cups and glasses are cleaned in modern dishwashers and the waste water is treated at the Kaiserslautern Blechhammerweg in one of the first and rare energy-neutral sewage treatment plants in Germany for return to nature. Since the small stream that gives the town its name - the Lauter stream - increases many times over due to the supply of treated wastewater from the town, in addition even the strictest limit values must be met.
What's left is the disposable cup. In spite of all those fabulous characteristics he has to end up in the residual waste. Every year, the approximately 60,000 spent cups had to be collected on campus and disposed of at the expense of the general public. In mid-August 2017, the dining guests were able to observe for themselves the unbelievable amount of this in front of the staircases: Every day of the week the amount of disposable cups was piled up. By the end of the week almost 1.500 cups had accumulated. This is a large, four-wheeled residual waste container full of disposable cups every week: more than the total residual waste in larger apartment buildings! The annual volume of around one ton of residual waste is not recycled, but incinerated in a waste-to-energy plant in Ludwigshafen or Pirmasens. It is transported there with a large fleet of extra trucks. The unburned remainder lands for eternity at the dump and fills the Kaiserslautern Kapiteltal with time up to mountain size. Permanent and never-ending monitoring is necessary to ensure that the inhabitants of Kaiserslautern and the Palatinate forest are as little affected as possible by the washed out pollutants. The residual waste thus becomes the most expensive of the classic waste types.
As a result, a change is inevitable. The decision has not been taken lightly, as the Studierendenwerk wants to and should meet the needs of students and university members. Rather, it was developed in a one-year decision-making process with countless conversations and discussions between voluntarily active students and employees of the "FuTUre Sustainability" initiative, the sustainability office, the department for university communication and the university's own printing department. Many solutions and concepts from other universities have been put through their paces. One of the findings was that a crude unilateral ban on disposable cups alone seldom leads to the goal. Even complex deposit systems and complex pricing structures almost always cause extreme dissatisfaction among all participants.
The result is a message: The individual decision for a sustainable development of our planet lies every day anew in the hands of every guest. Thus the awareness of the responsibility for our earth and our campus becomes visible every day. The global impact of one's own decision must be reflected in the individual consequences. The responsible enjoyment of coffee from once procured and thousands of times usable reusable cups causes no additional costs. Porcelain cups and glasses must not leave the dining area and must be returned unsolicited for reuse by other guests. For taking coffee with you, any suitable reusable cup can be brought along. Anyone who, like more than 100 other guests, would like to use the field-tested and matching mug in the stylish design of the Studierendenwerk and "FuTUre Nachhaltigkeit" will find what they are looking for at the information desk or in the atrium, just above the purchase price of just 5 euros. Numerous bakeries in Kaiserslautern and in Germany support the use of reusable tableware through price advantages. In the event of an emergency, the Studierendenwerk has compostable disposable cups ready at the cash desk in the atrium, except for the lid, which can be added to the coffee grounds in the organic waste bin and upcycled. Nevertheless: No garbage is the best garbage! In contrast to the extremely cheap conventional cup variant for the expensive residual waste, the costs for the production and disposal of the one-way cup of 30 ct are incurred directly by the originator and no longer burden the general public of the university.
With this step, the Studierendenwerk, under the management of Mr. Zimmer, is courageously and clearly positioning itself for the sustainable development of the TUK, but also for the other locations of the university in Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens and Zweibrücken. In the monthly review, it can already be seen that the number of disposable cups used at the TUK has fallen from 5,000 per month to around 300. Saying goodbye means that something new is coming and saying goodbye also means "hello". Maybe some of you will say hello to a new mug or other connoisseurs of hot drinks when you meet up to bring back used cups and glasses. And maybe the new cup of the campaign will also meet new friends more often here.