disposable cup

Why Can’t You Recycle Paper Coffee Cups?

On: Sep 16, 2020
By: TransMetal
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Category: Blog
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Coffee is the most popular hot beverage around the globe. It is beloved by a countless number of people, but coffee is also responsible for a lot of waste, mostly attributed to paper coffee cups. As a society, we go through approximately half a trillion of such cups each year.

You might have thought that you can help this situation by using paper coffee cups, but that is not the case, as they are not made out of recyclable paper and can’t be recycled. If you wish to learn more about the issues and figure out what you can do, keep on reading.

Reasons Against the Recycling

Paper coffee cups, unlike most other paper items, are actually coated with plastic, which makes up around five per cent of the whole cup. The plastic is there to ensure that hot beverages don’t leak all over the place. However, because of it, the cups can’t be broken down into the pulp and turned into new, recycled paper. Unfortunately, over 90% of cups in use today is destined to be part of rubbish removal rather than recycling, and as long as there is no alternative to the plastic coating for single-use cups, it is most likely to stay that way.

Are All Paper Cups Coated with Plastic?

Almost all coffee paper cups are coated with plastic but almost doesn’t mean all. Some single-use cups have a wax coating instead of a plastic one, which makes them compostable. However, determining whether your cup has a plastic coat or wax lining is fairly difficult.

If you are not sure whether the item you have is recyclable or not, you can always ask the experts.

But if you are sure that the cup you have has a wax coating, you can compost it at home or through a local community’s program. You can also try the nearby junk removal company, as they should have a compost bin on site.

disposable coffee cupAre Plastic Cups Easier to Recycle?

As surprising as it may sound, plastic cups are actually easier to recycle than paper coffee cups. Plastic cups tend to be made out of only one material, PET (polyethylene terephthalate or #1 plastic). When it comes to recycling, plastic seems to be the better option over paper cups made of anything other than styrofoam.

A lot of scrap yards have an option to buy back PET bottles for a small price, it won’t be much for bottles out of one household, but, collectively, the effort to save the planet will have a large impact. The prime example of a place where you can take your PET bottles to is a scrap yard in London.

What is the Solution?

The question you must be asking yourself now is, what can I do with a paper coffee cup when there is no other cup option? If you are really determined, you can remove the paper sleeve off your coffee cup. Then, you might want to try to separate the plastic and paper part of your cup and recycle both. The lid and straw of your cup are most probably recyclable, so you can go ahead and put it in the right bin.

Final Thoughts

You can’t directly throw away a paper cup with plastic coating to the recycling bin, but instead of throwing it directly into the rubbish, try to go for a more environmentally-friendly option.

Coffee is the perfect beverage for quite a lot of people, and you can drink it and still live a sustainable life, as long as you choose the cups that are recyclable or make an extra effort to try to recycle an almost non-recyclable paper coffee cup.

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Trans Metal is a family business, set up in 2008 and led by people who share same ethos and standards on how things should be done.