There are many reasons the cups cannot be recycled; First of all, it is not easy to collect all the cups that are distributed from the cafeterias. Most Ewhaians buy take-out beverages, carry them to their destinations and throw them away at the nearest waste basket. "To recycle the cups, they have to be gathered. But it is beyond the school"s capacity to gather all the plastic and paper cups that come out from all the waste baskets around the campus," says Na Gwang-sik from the Office of General Administration.
The school made the effort of equipping installation bins for the cups, but more garbage was found in the bins than cups. Some cafeterias at school operate a system that customers voluntarily deposit 50 won and refund it when they return the cups, but not many students know of the system.
However, a bigger problem is that the school cannot find a proper company to take away the cups for recycling. The used cups from in Ewha are few in quantity, so the companies are reluctant to take them because of the cost.
While Ewha does not have a clear solution, maybe it can learn from a popular take-out coffee shop, Starbucks. Starbucks invests much money in recycling its disposables. At the Starbucks in front of Ewha, 100 to 200 kilograms of used plastic and paper cups are recycled monthly. They are passed to a recycling company authorized by a governmental organization. The paper cups are reproduced into napkins or paper, and the plastic cups are reused as materials for construction, fiber, or other plastic goods. Starbucks is also increasing the usage of mugs within its stores, and will even provide drinks in glass cups soon.
Such efforts by Starbucks are in contrast with Ewha cafeterias. When asked about using mugs or glass cups instead, the manager of Ewha-sarang replies, "The expenses to buy mugs and to hire people to wash them are high." He believes, however, that will be ways to improve matters soon.
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