Coffee cups, recyclable or not?
Walk through the Melbourne CBD on any given morning and you’re bound to see an abundance of people lining up for their morning coffee. It’s estimated that as many as three billion coffee cups are sold each year in Australia – and unfortunately, most of these aren’t recycled properly, which means they’re going to landfill and ruining our rivers, parks and oceans.
So, what’s the verdict? Are coffee cups recyclable or not? Well, unfortunately it’s not a simple yes or no answer, which is maybe why the confusion on disposing of coffee cups exists in the first place. It turns out that us caffeine lovers may be causing more harm than good by putting our disposable coffee cups into the recycling bin.
Disposable coffee cups are made by lining the cardboard inside with a thin layer of plastic, making it waterproof, but this then means that they’re not biodegradable and cannot be thrown out the same way you would of most paper or cardboard. The reason being that cardboard and plastic behave in the recycling process very differently; If the cardboard fibres remain attached to the plastic, then they can’t be turned back in to paper products and are essentially wasted, and if we think about how many resources went in to producing that disposable cup in the first place, then we’re making matters a whole lot worse for the environment.
“But my café uses biodegradable cups?” The problem with these are that most of them are not clearly labelled and the majority of both consumers and recycling facilities can’t distinguish which cups can be processed in which category. Unfortunately, biodegradable cups also require very specific composting conditions to be able to break down and don’t compost in your average composting facility.
With an estimated 500 billion coffee cups produced each year and 60,000 kilograms of plastic waste from coffee cups going directly to landfill in Australia each year, it’s time to do something about it. So, how can you help?
We’re not asking you to reduce your caffeine intake, but simply suggesting that you treat yourself by sitting down at your local café instead of opting for takeaway. This option means that you won’t require a disposable cup, and its far more relaxing too.
Re-usable coffee cups are all the rage these days, so pick yourself up a stylish cup that you can take down to your local café. According to re-usable cup manufacturer, KeepCup, using one of its plastic (LDPE) recyclable KeepCups for a year, instead of disposable paper coffee cups will lead to a:
• 36-47% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
• 64-85% reduction in water use
• 91-92% reduction in landfill.
A reusable glass KeepCup
Sometimes our culture of convenience can make change difficult and hard to embrace, but these small changes, like buying a re-usable cup or reducing your disposable cup usage can make a big impact on our environment and its future.
Do you have your re-usable cup and are looking to further help the cause? Check out this blog on ABCs “War on Waste” on how we can push local cafes and councils to get on board.
Snap a selfie with your reusable coffee cup and tag us on Facebook @EcoBins!