The precarious problem with coffee cups from Starbucks, Costa and other coffee houses: they are barely recyclable

Who hasn’t heard of Starbucks? Their popularity, for a large part, is due to their signature move: writing or better yet misspelling your name on their coffee cups. The popularity has a down-side as well. The chain claims to care about our planet, coffee farmers and the environment. Yet, every day they send a mountain of polluting coffee cups into the world with no intention of ever seeing those cups again.

Coffee Cups are not as recyclable as we think…

Starbucks is not alone. Large coffee houses such as Costa, Café Nero and Pret a Manger like to give customers to-go coffee cups. Up to 7.000.000 each day! Despite all their promises and appealing eco-friendly branding, only 1 in 400 of those coffee cups are recyclable. The other 399 cups end up in a landfill or in nature. The latter is a disaster for the environment. We think coffee cups consists mainly of paper and will therefore disappear quickly. Wrong! Research has shown that it takes at least 30 years before a coffee cup is completely decomposed. We even named the cups ‘disposable cups’, is if you can just throw it over your shoulder when your drink is finished.

How are coffee cups made? Why are they not recyclable?

Coffee cups are made from wood pulp from threes that have had to grow for years. The paper used in coffee cups is most likely not recycled paper. This is mainly for practical reasons; recycled paper is not waterproof. Thus, the paper receives an extra layer of polyethylene, a plastic membrane that prevents leaks. Therefore, the cups are hardly recyclable. And don’t forget about the lid which is made of polystyrene in most cases. Pretty sad, considering the coffee cup will be thrown out after approximately 15-20 minutes only. Luckily there are companies working hard to create 100% recyclable cups.

Bring your own coffee mug with you!

Are you a coffee or tea -to-go lover? Then bring your own reusable, washable coffee mug and have your favourite coffee house fill it for you!