Recyclable Coffee Cups - Are they actually recycled?

May 22, 2016

It may shock you, but 99% of takeaway coffee cups actually end up in landfill. Why is this? What can we do to improve the situation?

 

It's paper - so it will be recycled, right? 

 

In the UK, we get through around 7 million takeaway coffee cups each day. They're typically made of recyclable materials, so why aren't they getting recycled?

 

It's Harder Than We Thought

 

The problem, it seems, is not the cups themselves, rather the lack of facilities (in the UK) to separate out the constituent parts. Your typical takeaway coffee cup will have a waxed inner lining. If it didn't, the whole thing would just collapse into a soggy mess, the moment hot coffee hit it. When it comes to recycling a special process is required to remove this wax.

 

There are just not enough recycling plants (The UK has only 2) tooled up to deal with paper/wax coffee cups and therefore, even if you put your cup in the bin marked recycling, it may not actually be recycled. We are sure that the situation will improve, but in the meantime we could do a little bit more as consumers:

 

What Can We Do to Help?

 

Buy a reusable cup or flask. There are all sorts on the market, from general ones available from camping/outdoors stores to dedicated designs, flat-white or even espresso sized. It will need washing up, but you will be doing your bit. Don't be shy of asking your regular coffee house for a discount seeing as you are saving them the cost of a paper cup. Some are more generous that others here, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

Get a reusable cup and make a difference 

 

Why not take things a stage further? Brew up at home using beans from your favourite roaster and take your coffee with you. When we do this we use a cafetiere for quickness. Whilst it's brewing we get on with other things. A top tip here is to pre-warm your reusable cup, otherwise there's every chance your coffee will be a little on the cool side when you get to drink it. Our second tip is, if your reusable cup or flask is made of metal, decant the coffee into a pre-warmed china cup. It always tastes better. ☺

 

We've decided to give #5ThingsWeDidThisWeek a rest for the time being.

 

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