You know when you’re watching a movie with a really bad screenplay, and to show that a character (generally female) is super annoying, they have her go into a Starbucks and order something like a triple foam half-caf no fat sugar-free hazelnut etc.? Well, this cinematic trope is officially dead, because now that character isn’t a demanding harpy. She’s a humanitarian. Because now the waste generated by her drink is going to be recycled into useful stuff like plastic and laundry detergent.
Over a billion tons of food waste is put into landfills each year. Starbucks Hong Kong, where Starbucks is giving the program a try, generates about 5,000 tons, and the company is hoping they can come up with something a little more creative and sustainable than the current plan of incineration, composting, or disposal. The plan is a partnership between nonprofit organization The Climate Group and Carol S.K. Lin, a biorefinery scientist (biorefinery scientists specialize in biomass conversion processes, by the way) at the City University of Hong Kong.
This plan was announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which we were going to make fun of as a bunch of money-hungry polluters until we actually read about it and saw that it was totally cool. Plus, chemists almost certainly drink a lot of coffee, which now gives you major karma points.
Get Grist in your inbox