6 Minute English
Coffee cups: Do you use your own?
Episode 190801 / 01 Aug 2019
Most takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable because they're lined with plastic. One big coffee shop chain has introduced a 5p levy for using a disposable cup to encourage people to bring their own; another one pledged to recycle as many disposable coffee cups as they produce by 2020. Neil and Rob discuss if this is enough to encourage coffee drinkers to behave in a more environmentally-friendly way. And they teach you related vocabulary.
This week's question
Which country drinks the most coffee per capita – so not the total amount of coffee but the average per person. Is it:
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
designed to be thrown away after a short time
designed to be used many times
gradually introducing something new to a business
buildings or structures that are needed for something to work.
a gentle push
to fight (something) tooth and nail
to make a strong effort against something
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.
And I'm Rob.
Now Rob, we’ve talked before on this programme about our love of coffee.
Oh yes, indeed. I couldn’t function without it.
But have you ever thought about the environmental consequences of all those disposable coffee cups?
Oh yes, indeed. I always carry a reusable cup with me so I don’t have to throw one away.
So if a disposable cup is one you throw away, a reusable one is one that you can use again and again.
Yes, there is a big problem with disposable cups in that many of them can’t be recycled, so there is a lot of waste for something we only use for a short time.
What are the big coffee shop chains doing about this problem? We’ll find out a little bit more shortly, but first, a quiz for you. Which country drinks the most coffee per capita – so not the total amount of coffee but the average per person. Is it:
b) Kenya, or
What do you think, Rob?
Ooh, tricky. I don’t think the Japanese are big coffee drinkers and I know they produce a lot of coffee in Kenya. I’m surprised the USA isn’t on the list but I’m going to go with Finland. Just because.
Well, we'll see if you're right later in the programme. On a recent BBC You and Yours radio programme they discussed the topic of coffee cups. Some of the big chains are now charging customers more for a disposable cup and giving discounts if people bring their own reusable. However not all of the shops actually collect old cups and sort them for recycling in the shop itself. Here’s Jaz Rabadia from Starbucks, Is the store only interested in facilities inside their shops?
It is something that we are in the process of rolling out and it will be in all of our stores. It's also not just our stores in which these cups end up. So we're doing a lot of work outside of our store environment to ensure that paper cups can be recycled on the go. We're working with our environmental charity partner Hubbub to increase recycling infrastructure outside of our stores because that too is where a lot of our cups will end up.
So are they just working in their stores at improving recycling?
Well no, after all most people take their coffee out of the stores, so they are working on recycling infrastructure outside as well. This will be things like bins and collection points which are clearly marked for coffee cups.
And what about enabling recycling cups in store?
Well she said that was something they are rolling out to all stores. Rolling out here means introducing over a period of time. So it’s starting to happen, but is not finished yet.
Let’s listen again.
It is something that we are in the process of rolling out and it will be in all of our stores. It's also not just our stores in which these cups end up. So we're doing a lot of work outside of our store environment to ensure that paper cups can be recycled on the go. We're working with our environmental charity partner hubbub to increase recycling infrastructure outside of our stores because that too is where a lot of our cups will end up.
Not everyone, however, believes that the coffee chains are doing everything that they can. This is Mary Creagh, a member of the British parliament. She compares the situation to that of the plastic bag charge. This was a law brought in to force shops to charge customers for plastic bags, which previously had been free.
Mary Creagh MP
If you think you’re having to pay extra for something, as we saw with the plastic bags, we think a similar psychological measure is needed, a nudge measure, to encourage people to remember to bring their reusable cup with them and of course this is something that the coffee shops have been fighting tooth and nail.
She thinks that we consumers need a nudge to help us remember our reusable cups.
Yes, we need a nudge, which is a little push, a reason. In this case, she is thinking of a law to make them charge more. But she says the coffee chains really don’t want this, they are, she says, fighting it tooth and nail. If you fight something tooth and nail you are against it completely and try to stop it.
Let's hear MP Mary Creagh again.
Mary Creagh MP
If you think you’re having to pay extra for something, as we saw with the plastic bags, we think a similar psychological measure is needed, a nudge measure, to encourage people to remember to bring their reusable cup with them and of course this is something that the coffee shops have been fighting tooth and nail.
Time to review our vocabulary, but first, let’s have the answer to the quiz question. Which country drinks the most coffee per capita? Is it:
b) Kenya, or
What did you think, Rob?
I took a bit of a guess at Finland.
Well, congratulations, your guess was correct. The Finns on average get through an amazing 12kg of coffee a year, each. Now, onto the vocabulary.
We had a couple of related but opposite words. Something disposable is designed to be used once or a few times and then thrown away and a reusable is designed to be used again and again.
We then had rolling out which in a business sense is the process of gradually introducing something new. This could be a new system, new product, new technology or even a new way of doing things.
New ideas often need new infrastructure. This is usually physical structures that are needed to make something work, for example rail infrastructure includes tracks, stations and signals.
A nudge is a small push, to encourage us to do something. You don’t need a nudge to carry a reusable coffee cup, do you?
Oh, no, I’m all for it. In fact I’d fight tooth and nail to keep hold of my reusable. Which is quite a coincidence as that was our last expression today. To fight tooth and nail means to make a strong effort to try to stop something or achieve something.
Well, that’s all from us. We look forward to your company next time. Until then, you can find us in all the usual places on social media, online and on our app. Just search for 'BBC Learning English'. Goodbye!
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Listen to Neil and Rob discussing mood swings, risk taking, and why people make fun of teenagers, while they also explore some related vocabulary.
Episode 150611 / 11 Jun 2015
How can remote parts of the world get access to the internet? Neil and Catherine discuss a new idea for spreading knowledge
Episode 150604 / 04 Jun 2015
What makes us angry and why is aggression useful? Neil and Catherine discuss human behaviour.
Episode 150528 / 28 May 2015
Big bushy beards have become so fashionable that there's now an art exhibition dedicated to them
Episode 150521 / 21 May 2015
A London apartment block has front and back entrances for private and social housing - or so-called rich and poor doors. Does it make sense to you? Listen to a discussion whilst learning some housing-related vocabulary
Episode 150514 / 14 May 2015
Fifty years ago, on 18 March 1965, Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov took the first space walk. Listen to Rob and Neil describing the struggles of that ground-breaking space mission whilst explaining some related vocabulary.
Episode 150507 / 07 May 2015
Furniture with built-in wireless charging technology - like a coffee table is now being sold. 'Built-in' means the technology is included as part of the table. So you just pop your phone on the table, and technology does the rest!
Episode 150430 / 30 Apr 2015
Many animals face extinction. But people are realising that they must act now to stop further losses. A scheme to save the Asian elephant in China could provide an answer.
Episode 150423 / 23 Apr 2015
How does music make you feel? Research shows that it actually influences us more than we realise - whether we're at the movies, the supermarket, or down the pub
Episode 150416 / 16 Apr 2015
Coffee is now the most popular drink in the world. But what about the economics and politics of coffee production? It's as complicated as getting the right flavour in your cup
Episode 150409 / 09 Apr 2015
Rob and Neil put on their sunglasses to find out more about this special star and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won’t be blinded with science!
Episode 150402 / 02 Apr 2015
The UK has become the first country to approve legislation allowing the creation of babies with genetic material from three people. Listen to Neil and Harry’s conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150326 / 26 Mar 2015
What are some art galleries banning to protect their paintings? Find out with Neil and Harry
Episode 150319 / 19 Mar 2015
An electronic device under your skin?! Workers in Sweden take part in experiment which allows them to get in and out of their office without a key, ID or password. Listen to Neil and Harry’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150312 / 12 Mar 2015
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. He is known throughout the world for his role in defeating Nazi Germany but he also made mistakes. Listen to Neil and Mike’s discussion, and learn new vocabulary.
Episode 150305 / 05 Mar 2015
We live in a richer world. But the gap between rich and poor is still very wide in individual countries. How to change this? Listen to Rob and Harry’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150226 / 26 Feb 2015
The price of vaccines has escalated and some poor countries are struggling to prevent children from catching certain life-threatening diseases, says Medecins Sans Frontieres. Listen to Rob and Neil’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150219 / 19 Feb 2015
Will thinking computers be the end of humans? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150212 / 12 Feb 2015
About 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica this season. But should they be going to a region with such a sensitive environment? Listen to Rob and Neil’s conversation and learn some new vocabulary.
Episode 150205 / 05 Feb 2015
At a time when more people compete for fewer jobs, are you sure you present your skills and abilities well to a potential employer? Listen to Rob and Neil's conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150129 / 29 Jan 2015
Going to a party where you don't know anyone? Listen to Rob and Neil's advice and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150122 / 22 Jan 2015
We use computers for everything nowadays. Are we forgetting our own abilities - and losing our talent? Listen to Rob and Neil's discussion, and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150115 / 15 Jan 2015
Smoking in cars with children might be banned in England. Listen to Neil and Rob's chat and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150108 / 08 Jan 2015
Is bullying just an attempt to give a bad name to what is part of human nature? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150101 / 01 Jan 2015
What would you put in your time capsule? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141225 / 25 Dec 2014
When enemy soldiers sang together in WW1. Listen to Rob and Finn’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 141218 / 18 Dec 2014
The London school where students speak 42 different languages
Episode 141211 / 11 Dec 2014
Laughter isn't always the best medicine, says research
Episode 141204 / 04 Dec 2014
Are your pictures, documents and videos safe online? Listen to Rob and Finn's chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141127 / 27 Nov 2014
Nowhere to park? How the sharing economy is changing the way we use our space
Episode 141120 / 20 Nov 2014
How can science fiction help the world? Rob and Finn discuss a project which aims to inspire through stories of a bright future
Episode 141113 / 13 Nov 2014
Why is eating meat bad news?
Episode 141106 / 06 Nov 2014
Do real-life superheroes exist or are they just cartoon characters?
Episode 141030 / 30 Oct 2014
Rob and Finn discuss the World Health Organisation's recommendations on e-cigarettes
Episode 141023 / 23 Oct 2014
Should we eat less sugar? Listen to Rob and Neil and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141016 / 16 Oct 2014
Is learning English getting easier? Find out what's new
Episode 141009 / 09 Oct 2014
Why do we buy so much food and not eat it all? Learn more about food waste
Episode 141002 / 02 Oct 2014
Is it right to sleep at work? Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
Episode 140929 / 29 Sep 2014
Is the way we see famous people a new thing? Learn about the first 'modern celebrity'.
Episode 140821 / 21 Aug 2014
Bored? You're not alone. Rob and Finn discuss how to deal with boredom and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won't be bored!