We get through 7 million single-use coffee cups each day in the UK – 2.5 billion every year. That’s enough to wrap around the moon, cover an area the size of Wales AND fill 20 Olympic swimming pools!
OK, we may be exaggerating, but it’s a lot! And only 1 in 400 is ever recycled. The rest end up in landfill or incinerated.
Recycling cups is tricky, as the paper they’re made of is tightly bonded to a plastic liner and whilst it is technically possible to separate these layers so the paper and plastic can be used again, this is a fiddly and expensive process which means it rarely happens.
The coffee kiosk at our local station isn’t alone in boasting about its ‘compostable’ cups, which turn out to be lined with plant-based plastic (or PLA) which requires specialist industrial composting to break down. A waste service that isn’t widely available (or even understood)!
Eliminating the need for single-use and incentivising customers to bring their own cups is the best solution, but whatever you do, they won’t all remember – so what’s the alternative?
There are some solutions available, including some that have a water-based lining. This means they can be home composted, which makes them a particularly good choice for events, or any other venues that can work with waste collection companies that guarantee they are taken to home composting facilities. Any unused or unsoiled cups can even be recycled with paper.
These are relatively new innovation so only available from a handful of suppliers.
With paper sleeves, and lids made from sugar cane waste, takeaway hot drinks can now be served fully plastic free.
GreenerGuest is one of the suppliers we know of that are currently stocking them, if you know of any other suppliers, please add them to this post.
Wording above provided by GreenerGuest.
Featured image from Unsplash.