Posted By:The iYFA Team

Post Date:January 17, 2018

Did you recycle your coffee cup today?

Every day hundreds of thousands of us put our coffee cup into a recycling bin, thinking that the cup will be recycled. But we’re wrong because those cups aren’t recyclable, and the UK throws away 2.5bn of them a year.

You see these disposable cups cannot be recycled by the normal methods because they are made from cardboard with a tightly bonded polyethylene liner, which is difficult to remove. Some are made waterproof by the card used being fused with polyethylene, a material that cannot be separated out again in a standard recycling mill.

This means they are not accepted by paper mills and instead have to be sent to highly specialized recycling mills, of which there are only a few in the UK. One of these sites has never actually dealt with a single paper cup. As a result, just one in 400 cups is recycled.

The British are a nation of caffeine addicts. Walk down any busy street and you’ll see people holding coffee-filled cardboard cups; most wrongly assuming that their paper cup is the ‘green’ choice.

Coffee chains ‘suggest’ that their cups are widely recyclable when they are not. And they can ‘get away’ with this because their poly-lined cups are, technically, capable of being recycled – a fact that enables them to describe their cups as “recyclable”.

You may have even seen, for example, under the misleading headline “great taste without the waste”, a major coffee company who describe their cups as “eco-friendly”.

So what can we all do about this incredible waste? Well, the easy answer is to stop buying coffee in paper cups, but the reality is that won’t happen. Not without some pretty good incentives anyway. The Government is talking about a 25p levy, known as the “latter levy”, on disposable coffee cups which would certainly help but it is changing habits that will have the biggest effect.

One simple thing to do is to never have your coffee in a paper cup if you are drinking the coffee on the premises; lots of people do. Take your own cup. This is more difficult but can be done if you really want to make a difference. This one might be a little controversial but you could drink less coffee. And, then, of course, you can lobby for the introduction of truly recyclable paper cups.

If we all do a little of each it will make a massive difference to our planet and also improve the look of our local high streets where piles of discarded paper cups can often be seen.

The iYFA Team

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