Love coffee, hate waste?
Let's talk about coffee. It's been in the media a lot lately with Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall's War on Waste and plenty of articles stating the facts about throwaway coffee cups not being recyclable, but also taking 30 years to even begin the breaking down process.
You can understand why we are confused about the recyclability of coffee cups, they look like cardboard so we treat them like cardboard. Only, we now know that they are all lined with polyethylene to keep our hot coffee from seeping into the cup and making it flimsy and unusable. This polyethylene is a very thin layer of plastic, which keeps the cup waterproof but making it non-recylable. Don't even get us started on the throwaway plastic lids on coffee cups...
In the UK, we drink our way through 8 million cups of takeaway coffee (or other hot beverages) each day, with very few of us attempting to recycle them. In fact, less than 1 in every 400, not that they are actually recyclable!
Globally, over 500 billion disposable coffee cups are manufactured each year and every minute 1 million are being thrown away into landfill. In the manufacturing of coffee cups very little recycled paper is used, because of contamination concerns. Therefore most of the world's paper supply, in fact about 71%, still comes from fast diminishing forests, not tree farms or the recycling bin. Every year nearly 4 billion trees (35% of total trees) are used in paper industries around the world. We can't continue like this.
With recent talk about fully biodegradeable coffee cups, whilst we feel this is a step in the right direction, let's not ignore the fact that disposable 'compostable' cups require commercial composting to biodegrade.
So you see, this is a big problem globally. It's our problem, and it's really only up to us to make changes - to vote with our coffee, so to speak. If we refuse single-use throwaway coffee cups the demand will decrease and slowly the manufacturing of takeaway coffee cups will also decrease.
Well one option would be to choose to drink your coffee in the coffee shop, take some time to stop, sit down and savour the flavour. Unfortunately, in our ever increasing busy modern world, we are all in a rush and need our caffeine fix on the go. Cue - the Reusable Coffee Cup!