The Tipping Point

The One Less Tipping Point is a simple number to help consumers understand how many times a product must be used before it reaches an environmental breakeven point. Once a product is used more times than the Tipping Point it is having a positive impact on the environment.

The Tipping Point is written in simple language and backed by in-depth scientific analysis (however it is not a Life Cycle Analysis (LCS)). We’ve chosen to use embodied energy as the central component for the Tipping Point given it’s wide scope and relative simplicity.

Significant change in the community is only possible once consumer barriers are removed. We are lowering entry prices and simplifying complex language in order to kickstart a revolt against single-use products.

tipping point

Embodied Energy

Embodied energy is the total amount of energy consumed in the extraction, refinement, processing, transport and fabrication of a product. Unlike a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which seeks to quantify the impact of a product over its entire life, embodied energy considers only a product’s initial energy impact. It does not include the operation or disposal of products. Given the variety of ways in which consumers use and clean reusable cups and the lack of energy recovery options possible at end of life, embodied energy represents a simple and comprehensive way of comparing reusables to disposables.

Products Compared

One Less Reusable Cup

Size: 8oz/236ml
Cup: Glass, average weight 207 grams.
Lid: Silicone rubber, average weight 23 grams
Sleeve: Silicone rubber, average weight 23 grams

Disposable cup

An environmentally class leading disposable cup and lid. This disposable cup is one of the most energy friendly on the market and utilises plant-based materials and bioplastics. We wanted to go head to head with the best.
Size: 8oz/236ml
Cup: BioPack Paper Pulp, average weight 9 grams.
Lid: BioPack BioPlastic (PLA), average weight 3 grams.

Assumptions

  • Sea freight transport energy between manufacturing facilities in China and the One Less distribution center in Sydney were added to the embodied energy values of components.
  • Packaging materials used for the One Less product were added to the embodied energy values of the product.
  • No energy can be recovered from either product at the end of its life.
  • Embodied energy values for glass were obtained from Hocking’s 1994 study.
  • Embodied energy values for silicone rubber were obtained from AZoM Materials.

Conclusions

  • The Tipping Point for a One Less 8oz/236ml Glass Reusable Cup is 28.
  • After 28 uses the One Less 80z/236ml Glass Reusable Cup uses less embodied energy than a class-leading disposable cup. You’re in the clear.
  • The total embodied energy in a One Less 80z/236ml Glass Reusable Cup is 16946kJ.
  • The total embodied energy in a disposable BioPack Paper Pulp cup with BioPlastic (PLA) is 621kJ.

Disclaimer

The lawyers told us we had to have a disclaimer… To obtain the various figures in this document for comparison purposes, we have applied the embodied energy values from the noted research papers. We have not undertaken our own independent study or testing. We do not warrant and/or represent that the embodied energy values are true and correct, they are for illustrative purposes only in order for us to derive the One Less Tipping Point – a mathematical equation applicable to One Less and its business model only.