Disposable coffee cups – they’re recyclable, right?
You might think so, but the truth is that fewer than 1 in 400 takeaway cups are actually recycled. That’s only 1% of the estimated 2.5 billion take-away coffee cups that are thrown away in the UK each year. Even those cups that you place in your own recycling bin are generally rejected at the recycling plant. This is because the cardboard is fused with polyethelene in order to prevent the leakage of hot beverages, and this can only be recycled in a highly specialised recycling plant – of which there are only two in the UK.
Despite the billions of pounds of profit made by the coffee industry, very little is yet being done to combat the mountains of waste being thrown into incinerators or on to landfill sites.
Following the success of the 5p charge on carrier bags that was introduced to the UK in 2015, which has led to an 83% reduction in plastic bag use, a call is now being made for a similar 5p charge for disposable cups. A trial run at Cardiff University shows that a small charge goes a long way towards reducing waste, with reusable cups quickly being taken up in their place.
As well as reducing waste, encouraging coffee consumers to use reusable cups also helps to protect the environment in other ways. Every year, millions of trees are cut down in order to create the cardboard needed for disposable cups, destroying the habitats of billions of animals. Due to the contact they have with hot liquid, the cups have to be made out of virgin paper pulp and not recycled material. This is a further waste of resources, as they have only a single use before they are discarded.
Sign the petition calling for the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, to introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.