Why Coffee Cups Aren’t Recyclable

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Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. We pull up to a window and order one of three sizes and speed off to our next meeting or event.

These favorite takeaway beverage containers seem like an excellent opportunity to help the environment by tossing them into the recycle bin. Yet typically paper takeaway cups like those found at many coffee shops are not recyclable, and here is why.

These coffee cups are generally paper cups coated on the inside of the cup with plastic. Separating that plastic from the paper fibers is one issue facing recycling companies. Another problem is on the outside of the container, where they use ink for the logos and customer names. This ink then soaks into the paper fibers and means that an additional step is needed to remove the ink from the paper fibers. This process is called de-inking and comes with more energy, water, and expense.

Some companies have started to prove that it is possible to recycle their cups, and some municipalities are trying to recycle coffee cups. If they are successful in this process, maybe others will follow their lead.

How long garbage takes to break down
Get a reusable to-go cup and say goodbye to foam plastic cups forever.

In the meantime – Do we need paper cups?

Even if this process becomes more affordable and readily practiced, we as a society need to think about skipping the paper cup altogether. Here are a couple of better options.

Bring Your Own Reusable Cup

Using a personal cup will provide the most significant benefit to the environment. No additional resources are needed. The plus is that most coffee shops will offer a discount for bringing your mug.  Small change. Tremendous impact on the environment and your pocketbook.

Order your coffee for here

Many coffee shops will provide you with a ceramic or other washable mugs if you inform them that you will be drinking your coffee on sight in their restaurant. That helps keep waste down and is better for the environment.

Here is a list of other everyday items not to recycle.


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