Billie makes 100,000 cups superfluous

Away with the throw-away cup, ‘zero waste’ here we come: as of today all the canteens on the TU/e campus are using the Billie Cup. This returnable cup (deposit: one euro) replaces no fewer than 100,00 paper coffee cups used at TU/e in a year and “that boils down to saving 3,500 kilos of waste,” says Sebastiaan Aarts of caterer Appèl.

photo Billie Cup / TU/e

On Valentine's Day in TU/e's canteens it's all about loving a sustainable world. “To maximize the impact, the switch to the Billie Cup in happening today in one fell swoop in all the outlets across the campus,” explains catering manager Sebastiaan Aarts.

Billie is a robust plastic returnable cup. It comes in two colors and sizes: a large light blue one for tea, cappuccino and latte; and a smaller brown one for espresso and regular coffee. You can buy one for a euro, and then swap it for a clean one time and time again at any catering outlet.

Lids can be bought separately. With Billie's arrival, the existing discount on hot beverages for any customer who brings along their own cup will disappear.

Coffee dispensers

“When you hand in your cup, you'll be given a one-euro discount on your purchase or a special coin that you can use to pick up a cup at a later time,” says Aarts. He expects it won't take long for the TU/e community to get used to this new way of doing things: “The system has also been introduced at Wageningen University. Within a couple of weeks there, no one knew any different.”

The Billie Cups also fit under the coffee dispensers manufactured by Maas. Having said that, disposable cups will continue to be available at these dispensers.

Composting process

Martine de Graaff, contract manager at the Facility Center, is coordinating the arrival of Billie on behalf of TU/e. “Separating waste is a complex business. You often find yourself thinking, what belongs where? Sustainable disposable materials can't join the organic waste stream because they take longer to become compost than an apple core or sandwich. So unavoidably they end up with the non-recyclable waste. That's why it makes most sense to aim for zero waste, and the Billie Cup is a great step in that direction.”

The idea for zero waste arose when collaborators in the supply chain got together in their regular meetings. Here, waste processor Renewi, cleaning company Asito, Appèl and various suppliers meet to share ideas for ways to make the campus more sustainable.

“We're now going to turn our attention to crockery and cutlery,” says De Graaf. After all, the sustainable disposable items – plastic is now legally banned – have the disadvantages mentioned above, and the way the products feel in the mouth isn't universally liked. A further consideration, however, is that large quantities of ‘normal’ washable cutlery are stolen from the canteens, in turn a considerable expense. “Perhaps in time a returnables system will deal with that too.”

1001 Nights

As for today, there is more news on the catering front: tomorrow (at 10.00 a.m.) the long-awaited branch of Subway in the Auditorium will open its doors. Also, Appèl has a number of themed weeks in store for TU/e, the first of which kicks off today.

In Atlas and Helix the theme is the USA, which means that this week you'll find items like bagels, corn chowder, pulled chicken, burgers and BBQ-style dishes on offer. In the eateries of Flux, Gemini, MetaForum and Vertigo it's all about the tastes of 1001 Nights, so think mezze, hummus, flatbread, marinated olives and stuffed vine leaves.

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