By Kara Blomquist
Common Grounds customers will soon see a change in cups. The coffeehouse will replace its Styrofoam cups with completely decomposable cups as a part of their green initiative.
This will make the shop Styrofoam-free. Blake Batson, owner of Common Grounds, said the shop will order its first shipment of Styrofoam-free cups Monday.
Batson said he has been thinking about getting rid of Styrofoam for a while.
“It’s really cool because I think it’s something that has needed to happen for a long time,” he said. “It really encourages me that we can finally move away from Styrofoam cups, and it can overall be a really positive thing for Common Grounds, for the community, for the environment.”
Smith Getterman, Baylor’s sustainability coordinator, said he is excited that Common Grounds is getting rid of Styrofoam.
“Campus is 100 percent Styrofoam-free now,” he said. “So, you know, it only makes sense for a vendor or for an organization, a business that’s right off campus to be Styrofoam-free as well.”
The coffee shop will order two types of cups, one for hot drinks and one for cold drinks, Batson said. Vegware U.S. Inc. manufactures these new cups.
The cups for hot drinks are lined with corn-based plastic and are doubled-walled for insulation, according to Vegware’s website.
The cups for cold drinks are clear and made of bioplastic produced from corn and other starches, according to the website.
Common Grounds is deciding whether product prices will rise due to this green effort, Batson said.
“If we have to raise the prices, it will be only a few cents to account for the cups,” he said.
Boerne junior Andrew Hulett, green marketing director and barista at Common Grounds, has been leading the green effort.
Hulett was hired as a barista in the beginning of the summer of 2012 and became the green marketing director in February.
“I think we are in a place to educate our customers at least a little bit, kind of plant the seeds about how to live better and treat the earth well,” he said.
Moving from Styrofoam to decomposable cups has been an ongoing process, Batson said. There have been some obstacles to overcome, he said.
Condensation forms on the outside of paper cups filled with cold drinks. Batson said the company had to weigh the value of the eco-friendly cup against the value of a drink that remains servable for a long period.
“We’ve tried to find a balance and a compromise for both of those values,” he said. “I want to be able serve an environment-friendly cup but not compromise the quality of the drink, the length of time the drink remains servable.”
Batson said even the act of ordering the cups presented challenges.
The coffeehouse wanted the new cups to have a logo on them, but that raised the minimum number of cups that could be ordered, he said.
“So now you have the problem of,‘Where do we store 200,000 cups in the right temperature to not break down in the warehouse and compost on themselves?’” he said. Because the cups are food-based, extreme temperatures cause the cups to decompose.
Hulett said the shop decided to order the first batch of cups without logos.
“We decided to go non-branded so we could just get them right away and start using them, and then eventually switch over to branded ones,” he said.
The Styrofoam-free cups are just one aspect of the green initiative, Batson said.
Common Grounds has improved its internal recycling, Hulett said.
“We figured out what we could do to make sure that everything that was recyclable was recycled and nothing else,” he said.
Potential efforts for the coffeehouse include composting and encouraging bike riding, Hulett said.
“Things like that, just trying to in any way encourage sustainable living,” Hulett said.
He said educating customers about sustainable living is a big part of the green effort. This could include educational signs and labels on recycling and composting receptacles, he said.
“I think customers should expect to see a lot of changes as we move forward with this,” Batson said.
Common Grounds will use Project Greenway as a launch party for its green efforts, Hulett said.
Project Greenway involves a fashion show in which teams create a wardrobe out of recycled materials and compete for a prize.
The teams have been created, and students can no longer sign up to participate.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. March 21 at Common Grounds.