Your throwaway coffee

You’ve enjoyed a lovely hot coffee from your local coffee shop, and you’re left with your empty paper cup. What do you do with it? If you said ‘place it in the recycling bin’, you would be incorrect. Believe it or not, your disposable coffee cup is not recyclable. That little recycling symbol on the side of your cup? Sneakily, it only refers to the corrugated cardboard cup holder.

The makeup of your cup

How many of these have you had this week?

A takeaway coffee cup is made from paper that is laminated with the plastic, polyethylene. The majority of recycling plants don’t have the facilities to remove this plastic lining, which takes around thirty years to break down!

In the UK alone, around eight million disposable coffee cups are distributed EVERY DAY, that works out to be around ten thousand every minute. With fewer than one in 400 of these cups being recycled, we are throwing away around 2.5 billion cups each year.

To make matters worse, because the cup seams comes into contact with your beverage, recycled paper cannot be used. It takes at least 100,000 trees each year just to fuel Britain’s coffee habit.

What to do

With December’s global temperature being the highest on record, it’s clear that we have to do everything possible to slow the process of global warming, and reducing our usage of disposable cups seems like an easy win.

Now, we’re not telling you that you have to go without your daily caffeine injection – heaven forbid! What we are suggesting, is finding an alternative receptacle, and most coffee shops will provide a discount when you use your own cup. We’re not the only ones calling for alternative receptacles, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall waged a war against the disposable coffee cup last year, in his fantastic documentary, ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’. The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) have also launched their ‘Cupifesto’, calling for the usage of disposable coffee cups to be curbed, you can read the ‘Cupifesto’ here.

Plump for a reusable coffee cup

So, what is the alternative? For those of us that enjoy our beverages piping hot, invest in a flask mug, Bodum have some beautiful options here, or you can find more value options in Wilkinson’s here. If, like me, you need your coffee not to scald your tongue, KeepCup, with a customisable cup holder and sip lid, may be the ideal option. Like the idea but don’t want to splash the cash? You can find a basic plastic coffee tumbler in your nearest Starbucks for between £1.00 – £2.00.

So, there we have it. We hope we’ve shown you the error of your ways in your throwaway coffee habits. Do you use a reusable cup? What type do you favour? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter, we’re at Water_Today.