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Guats Up! and Butterworth's owner Rob Butterworth calls for action in Bury St Edmunds to free the world of plastic

For a time we could not get enough of it and now we’re drowning in it. Since 2008, Butterworth & Son have purchased biodegradable packaging in the form of takeaway cups and lids. For those not in the know, even paper cups have a plastic lining to prevent leaks. In 2008, lids for takeaway cups were a crude affair, being made from a form of corn starch, they were brittle and therefore wastage was high, they were also expensive.

Ten years on and vegetable based and renewable packaging has come a long way, the quality has improved a lot and the price has been greatly reduced. One of the biggest issues for us as a coffee roaster has been trying to source affordable, durable bags for our coffee beans of which we use tens of thousands a year. The bags are made from a metal plastic mix and this type of material, although an excellent barrier for the preservation of coffee beans, is some of the most damaging for the environment taking more than 400 years to breakdown! Eek!

A plague of plastic (13012821)
A plague of plastic (13012821)

However, I am delighted to inform our Bury St Edmunds readers first that within the next few weeks our first batch of bio bags will arrive in the country. All our coffee bags have a one-way valve and retail bags have a resealable zip seal but these too are also biodegradable and we will begin shipping all our 1kilo bags in this format immediately. We have had to make a larger than normal commitment to our purchase quantity, but I know this is the right thing to do.

As an avid reader of international affairs I am aware many countries like Rwanda and Kenya have banned plastic bags and most recently Belize has banned all forms of single use plastic and styrofoam (go Belize!). I hope one day soon Great Britain can do the same, but in

the meantime it’s something I think as a town we should be pushing for. I am attending the AGM of BID and raising this issue in the hope we can produce a Charter as a town to rid all retail businesses (including market stalls) in the CBD not to use single-use plastics or styrofoam.

Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall, and Guat’s Up! café in Guildhall Street.

His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees.