South Sound News

City of Tacoma launches 'Bring Your Own Mug' campaign

TACOMA, Wash. — That recyclable coffee cup you’re tossing in the recycle bin may not ever actually get recycled. And the city of Tacoma would like you to stop it.

That’s why the city launched a program to get you to “Bring Your Own Mug”.

The Red Elm cafe is just one of the businesses taking part. “But we all have advocated for that anyway,” says Sarah Joslyn, who owns the café with her two sisters. “For me personally I bring my mug every single day.”

The month long campaign was launched to convince people not to rely on single use paper coffee cups for takeout.

“The bring your own mug campaign is really about addressing the throw away culture,” said Pat Babbitt with Tacoma’s office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability. Babbitt says what most of us don't know is that often, even cups marked as recyclable aren't always recycled. “Styrofoam has to come in certain forms to be recycled. The same can go for paper cups which actually have a plastic lining on the inside and make them very complicated to recycle.”

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According to the city’s website Americans use 110 million single-use hot coffee cups per day.  One in two coffee customers in Tacoma use a single-use cup for to-go orders. One in five use a single-use cup when they sip their coffee in-house. Most of those cups wind up in landfills.

At the Red Elm they sell a lot of coffee and are offering a 50-cent discount for customers bringing their own mugs for to go java. But Joslyn says she's not sure if that's a long-term answer. “The incentive, I’m not sure, is actually going to get people to continue to participate,” she said. “But I hope it does.”

The Bring Your Own Mug program ends after October. After that the city will evaluate the results and decide what to do next.