Think you can't recycle coffee cups? Then think again, Coffee Cup recycling stations are popping up around Australia so if you find yourself with a disposable coffee cup here's what you can do.
Ideally we would all have keep cups and never forget to bring them with us, AND we also wouldn't be refused the option to use them , but this doesn't always happen and many times I have refused a coffee in a disposable cup as I had no means of recycling it.
This has changed and now more and more places are offering facilities to recycle them. Remember, they still cant go into your curb side recycling bin.
Coffee cups are recyclable in single stream systems - this means that a collection bin that ONLY collects disposable coffee cups can actually send them to be recycled.
What is the Problem Recycling Coffee Cups?
If you haven't heard, coffee cups and many takeaway drink cups are difficult to recycle as they contain multiple layers of plastic and paper that make them very hard to process. Most lids can be recycled with other plastics in curb side recycling systems and straws can be collected and placed into a larger plastic container like a milk jug to enable recycling. Some councils will in fact accept disposable coffee cups, so always double check your local rules. Given that we throw out 2.6 billion coffee cups into landfill each year, it's about time we started recycling them.
Can't we Just go to Compostable Coffee Cups?
Yes, we can and that would be great, but only a few places offer this and it is still a difficult option to locate and systems can potentially be contaminated by disposable cups.
The other issue is how many of these are littered in parks, along beaches and public places that will not actually breakdown effectively as they require a commercial composting facility in order to do so (and no, you cannot compost them in your backyard).
Compostable is quite a good option, so don't rule out looking for locations. The University of Adelaide is currently implementing a compostable system for coffee cups as well as giving away free keep cups and putting an emergency mug wall in place (read more here).
Shouldn't We All Have Reusable Cups?
Yes, this would be fabulous, but not everyone can afford one or is able to carry it with them everywhere. We are a nation of coffee lovers who send an incredible amount of coffee cups to landfill each year. I think the bigger question is, why is it so hard to avoid the ridiculous packaging pushed onto us as consumers? For a real difference to occur, it really needs the makers and sellers to change...BUT this isn't going to happen unless the consumers start demanding it or the government starts regulating it. So in the meantime, recycling and composting is better than huge piles of discarded cups.
Don't forget, even though some places refuse keep cups, many do offer a discount and you can search for a Responsible Café here.
And if you don't yet have a reusable cup, check them out here.
Where in Australia Can You Can Drop Off Your Coffee Cups for Recycling?
A few weeks ago, CIBO announced their coffee cup recycling in Adelaide, and are
also offering to help subsidise getting a recycling collection point in your workplace so head here to see more details.
These guys have partnered with Simply Cups and have pledged to pay for one coffee cup to be recycled for each disposable cup sold. I don't think you can recycle in stores just yet.
7-Eleven Cup Rescue
Over 200 of the 7-Eleven stores around Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth now have collection bins to recycle coffee cups. They also collect straws!
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
With a goal of becoming the worlds first off the grid zoo, Lone Pine offers coffee cup recycling collection to minimise environmental impacts.
Queensland University of Technology
This Uni sells over 500,000 cups a year and has implemented collection points to encourage people to recycle their disposable cups, you can read more here.
Search Simply Cups
If you travel around the city, it may be simpler to search your postcode here to get a map showing your options.
What do you think? Would you opt for reusables only, or is this a great choice when desperate for a coffee and you've left the keep cup at home?
Personally, I think I'll just stick to the keep cups, but I love that this is becoming a more widespread option and it gives me hope that even the most ecofriendly challenged can easily (or unknowingly) participate in the war on disposable coffee cups.