Coffee Anyone - Is Our Habit Damaging The Planet?*

*This is a collaborative post*

I love a great coffee shop as much as the next person although my personal favourite hot beverage over coffee is a Costa hot chocolate, loaded with marshmallows and served wth lashings of cream! It's one of life's little luxuries or at least one of mine. l tend to indulge in this pleasure more so in the cold autumn and winter months, particularly when I've been out walking in the cold and I need something to warm me up from the inside. 

Whether you're team Costa or you prefer Starbucks, if you love coffee shops then chances are - just like me - you'll have gone through your own fair share of take out or disposable cups. I have to hold my hands up and be honest, as eco conscious as I try to be, I've never really given much thought to what happens to my disposable cups once I've thrown them away. I guess I just assumed that they all could be recycled because they look and feel like they're made of paper. But according to 'The What, Why & How To Of On-The-Go Cup Recycling,' an ebook put together by UK manufacturer Glasdon, this isn't always the case or at least it's not always so straight forward. In fact it's estimated that only 1 cup in every 400 is recycled. 

Types Of Disposable Cups

Apparently 2.5 billion disposable cups are used in the UK each year and the three main types are paper, plastic and foam. I don't come across many foam cups in the main high street coffee shops but I've noticed they still use them at sideroad burger vans and the likes. Whilst the foam does provide insulation when you're holding your hot drink, it is estimated that it takes hundreds of years for these to decompose. Not so great afterall. 
Again I don't come across many plastic cups in coffee shops but whenever I've been to a concert they almost always hand out plastic cups as it's deemed safer than the glass version. Thankfully most plastic cups are made with recyclable materials. 
Paper cups it seems are the most commonly used in coffee shops these days which sounds great because we can of course recycle paper, right? In theory yes, but in actual fact it's not the paper cup itself that presents the problem. It's all in the lining on the inside of the cup and how it's bonded which determines whether you can recycle your cup or not.

 How Can I Recycle My Coffee Cup?

If your paper cup has a PE lining then it can be recycled but only if it's disposed of in the right way, note these can't be disposed of in your usual recycling. Bearing this in mind how on earth are we expected to be able to do our bit? Thankfully as a solution, many main coffee chains now offer in-store recycling schemes. In fact Costa coffee stores have opened up their cup bins to any brand. Good old Costa! Next time you're finishing off your latte, why not keep hold of your cup until you pass a coffee shop that offers this recycling scheme? And if you work for a large company then you might also be interested in a cup recycling station. Many businesses are now implementing these stations as part of waste management programmes;

Of course many of you will already be doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint which is fantastic, but there is always that little bit more that can be done. So the next time you grab a take out coffee, have a nosey to see if your coffee shop has an in-store recycling scheme and if they don't, why not suggest it?

*Header photo via Pexels


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