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Woman calls out company for seemingly tricking customers with product alternative: 'Absolutely warped our perceptions'

"Mostly it's cost-saving for the corporation and a PR stunt."

"Mostly it's cost-saving for the corporation and a PR stunt.”

Photo Credit: @rebrandskincare / TikTok

A TikToker has called out a disturbing new trend where some coffee shops are touting plastic coffee bags as a sustainable alternative to to-go cups.

Aubri (@rebrandskincare) was first alerted to the new packaging by Connor R (@crelyea12), who posted a video showing the plastic pouch that his local coffee shops now serve iced coffee in. 

Connor describes with dismay how these "Capri Sun colostomy bags" are phasing out to-go cups, effectively replacing one kind of single-use plastic with another.

"No, no, no, no, no" Aubri responds in her own video. "This is an example of how greenwashing has absolutely warped our perceptions of what is actually sustainable."

@rebrandskincare Stitch with @Connor R ! This is the power of greenwashing. #greenwashing #sustainabletourism #plasticpollution #icedcoffee ♬ original sound - Rebrand Skincare

Aubri explains that although companies may claim that these coffee pouches are more sustainable than cups — because they are smaller and use less plastic — the type of plastic used to create both options is important to consider. 

Iced coffee cups used to be made out of PET, a plastic that is recyclable. In the U.S., Aubri says, PET is recycled at a 30% rate — roughly the same as glass. 

She also points out that PET can be made with a bio-based feedstock, eradicating fossil fuels from plastic production.

The plastic pouch, on the other hand, is likely destined for a landfill, which defeats the point of its so-called "sustainable credentials." 

Takeaway drinks served in plastic bags are already a common sight in some Southeast Asian countries, like Singapore, Malaysia, and Quindao, China. 

In Singapore, these carriers are known as dabao bags, and have become so iconic in the region that there is even an accessory bag fashioned after them. 

But according to Mothership, these dabao bags may clash with a growing awareness of plastic pollution in Singapore. 

The average Singaporean uses 13 plastic bags a day, which has prompted the government to implement a plastic bag charge at grocery stores. 

Some store owners who spoke to Mothership have noted a dent in the number of people requesting dabao bags.

To import this plastic packaging to the U.S., then, seems unadvisable. Aubri affirms that the most sustainable option for to-go coffees remains the reusable cup that customers bring from home. 

"Greenwashing at its finest!" commented one TikToker. "Yeah 'more sustainable' through the production but mostly it's cost-saving for the corporation and a PR stunt."

"Anything you throw away after a single use is inherently unsustainable," another pointed out.

Another TikToker commented on the complexity involved in calculating sustainability. "Real reason is they pack tighter and it costs less to ship and store," they wrote. "In theory there's a lower carbon footprint, just not at production/consumption."

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