Anti Coffee Stirrer Effort: Stats Update

For those of you wondering what’s happening with the stir stick statistics I promised some time back, I’m still working on them. The information is far from readily available; it would appear that no one has yet bothered to calculate how many coffee stir sticks get used throughout the world on a single day.

I’m nonetheless trying to amass the info by combining, deducing, and inferring from all the free data that is available out there; this includes sales reports of stir stick producing companies, import and export reports, stats on everything from per capita coffee consumptions and drinking preferences, etc. **

Several ways to look at it, for example:

There are about 8,600 major-chain convenience stores (a.k.a. 'dep' in Quebec) with coffee bars in Canada alone. Without going into lengthy details, we can assume that they each go through an average of 35 sticks / day; this means that approximately 301,000 stir sticks get used and tossed daily just in major-chain deps across Canada.
This doesn’t even include all of the small ‘mom and pop’ or other kinds of deps which don’t fall under this category and for which concise info is hard to come by.
And what about all the garages or hair-salons or offices that offer coffee?
It’s the same deal for coffee houses. It’s easy to know how many Starbucks and Second Cups there are, but how many independent coffee houses are out there???

Anyhow, it's clear that a really crude guesstimate, and only for Canada and the U.S. (stats for other countries are vague or non-existant), is about all I can hope for by taking this arduous route, so I'm now looking into stir stick manufacturing data. Since stir sticks come in both plastic and wood, and since there is a whole 'specialty' side to this business (e.g. see picture), this route is also pretty bumpy and full of holes…
World wide coffee habits are useful, but only up to a certain point, so…

I’ll keep on plugging away at the question until I get a more accurate fix on the number, but any which way, I feel confident enough to say that over 3 million stir sticks get used and tossed in the trash (although some may make it to the recycling bin; how do we get that info?) throughout the world on any given day.
Now, what does that represent in terms of natural resources? One tree equals how many wooden stir sticks and how much oil goes into making plastic ones? How many acres of landfill and tons of greenhouse producing gases are involved? And why do retailers of plastic stirrers claim to offer a more environmentally friendly product and why do the wood people claim the exact same thing? More importantly, who’s right?
I’m still working on all of that…

Keep on clicking!


**Note: I’m doing my best to exclude from these stats all of the other reasons or areas which use up stir sticks e.g. school-crafts; hobbies; all sorts of industries which rely on them to mix all sorts of different things, etc. This alone provides its fair share of hair-pulling…

© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier


Dante said...

Hello, found your post thru Google. I also was looking for production numbers for wood and plastic coffee stir sticks. What have you found?

Pascal-Denis Lussier said...

Sorry, Dante, just recently read your comment. Not much more yet...
I'll try to post something soon.


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