Can you recycle coffee cups?

Australians are coffee lovers! We consume a lot of coffee – and that means we add a lot of single use coffee cups to landfill. About 2.7 million per day to be exact .. that’s about 1 billion per year. Which is ~60,000kg of plastic waste per year!

Recycling coffee cups

Coffee cups cannot be recycled through our kerbside recycling in Australia.

Most paper coffee cups have a plastic liner that make it difficult to recycle in Australia.

 

thin plastic coffee cup

 

However, there is hope! Simply Cups is a paper cup collection service (an initiative by Closed Loop). We saw the global issue of excessive coffee cups being added to landfill and created the Simply Cups program to provide a solution.

How to recycle coffee cups

Coffee is part of our culture. Reusable coffee cups are the best alternative Australia’s coffee cup landfill crisis (that’s the 1 billion coffee cups that are added to landfill every year!)

If you do find yourself with a take away coffee cup, you can recycle them through the Simply Cups program. Simply Cups collect paper cups including:

  • 7-Eleven slurpee cups
  • Fast food chain soft drink cups
  • Compostable or paper coffee cups

Simply Cups use the paper cups to create innovative products such as reusable coffee cups, reusable coffee cup trays, building and construction products, garden edges … and this is just the beginning! Find out more about the Simply Cups upcycled products here.

Compostable is not the solution

There are other coffee cups on the market, such as compostable coffee cups which are advertised as being the more ‘sustainable’ option.

They are not.

While the coffee cup is made from plants and use plant oils as the lining – compostable coffee cups are only compostable under specific conditions.

Compostable coffee cups need to be taken to specific composting facilities. In Australia, we have few composting facilities. The issue is that it is unlikely that your compostable coffee cup will make it to the composting facility because they have few collection points for the general public, and most do not accept compostable coffee cups.

In reality, compostable coffee cups are usually added to waste bins which is still adding to our 1 billion coffee cups in landfill per year!

Reducing your impact

Reusable coffee cups are best

Using a reusable coffee cup is the most sustainable option. Check out the rCUP which is the first reusable coffee cup made from coffee cups!

Collect coffee cups to return

Start your own disposable coffee or paper cup collection and take it to one of the Simply Cups collection sites. Find your closest collection point here.

Keep reusable coffee cups in the office

A few reusable coffee cups in the office (or even just mugs) can be a great reminder to bring your own reusable coffee cup for your morning or afternoon coffee run!

Coffee cup recycling

Unfortunately, coffee cups are not recyclable through traditional and standard paper and cardboard recycling as they have a plastic liner.

Compostable and other plant-based/oil lined coffee cups are not a more sustainable option. While they can be composted, Australia doesn’t have many accessible composting facilities that can safely and appropriately compost coffee cups.

Recycle your coffee cups, or any paper cups (including compostable) through the Simply Cups program. See more at www.simplycups.com.au

References:

https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/recycling-and-reducing-waste/at-home/avoid-waste/minimise-single-use-items/disposable-coffee-cups

https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/publications/coffee-cup-recycling

https://www.cleanup.org.au/single-use-coffee-cups

https://envirobank.com.au/coffee-cups-recyclable-or-not/

https://planetark.org/newsroom/archive/1208

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/takeaway-coffee-cups-piling-up-in-landfill/7136926