A lot of shops, food outlets and coffee shops offer cardboard recycling bins. This leads most people to believe that if they put their cardboard coffee cups in them they will be recycled. But are coffee cups recyclable?
The difficulty comes when recycling plants try to separate the plastic polymer and the cardboard outer. It is a very involved and complex process that means that most recycling plants won’t recycle them. To compound this further there is the risk of contamination. As people, especially on trains,s tend to use their empty coffee cup as somewhere to put rubbish. Things such as banana skins. So, are coffee cups recyclable at all?
In the UK alone we go through a whopping 7 million disposable coffee cups a day! That is 2.5 billion coffee cups binned every single year. Sadly, of this figure, only 1 in 400 are recycled.
Can the coffee giants help?
There are some big companies trying to make a difference, two of them being Starbucks and Costa Coffee. They have teamed up with Veolia a recycling company trying to make headway in resolving the issue.
Starbucks has also launched an incentive to encourage recycling which will take any brand of a paper cup and recycle them. They have also for the past decade offered a 25 pence discount on your coffee if you use a reusable cup when ordering.
Veolia which works with the two leading coffee giants, Starbucks and Costa, has found a solution. They have found a way to separate the plastic polymer and cardboard from the cups. The process is expensive and complex and they are hoping to reach their target of 5 million cups by the end of 2017. Whilst this doesn’t even reach the number of coffee cups disposed of daily in the UK. It is certainly a start and a move in the right direction.