It Doesn’t Do What It Says On The Cup

The familiar takeaway cup, the card or paper on the outside and insulated inside, on the surface seems like a good model. Brands are able to display their logo and the hot drink is kept hot. They also don’t hold back in advertising the cup can be recycled. Though technically true, the inside of the cup causes problems, resulting in 1% being recycled – at most.

The waterproof lining of the cup is made of plastic polyethylene and cannot be recycled at most facilities, with the exception of 3. Whilst the UK consumes 70 million cups of coffee per day, 1,400 cups a day purchased by the UK’s environment department are takeaway, equating to close to 10,000 of these near-unrecyclable cups each week.

Unfortunately, if one of these cups ends up mixed in with other recyclables it can contaminate the whole lot, where it will eventually end up in landfill, making it unsurprising that in the last five years, the MCS Beachwatch beach clean and survey programme has seen an increase of 93% in coffee cups found on UK beaches. The MSC says they welcome the recent proposal of a charge of 25p on disposable coffee cups, put forward by the Environmental Audit Committee. Even before this proposal, the idea was growing in popularity; a YouGov survey for MCS revealed that 74%, nearly three out of four people questioned across the UK, would support the charge on single use coffee cups.

Considering the lifetime and eventuality of the disposable cup and the prospect of adding to the current 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, when it comes to charges on coffee cups, it seems like a popular and achievable idea. Until that day comes, it’s going to be me and my trusty Thermos.

Citations:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/10/coffee-shops-not-doing-enough-to-combat-huge-increase-in-wasted-cups

https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/drinks/tea-and-coffee/articles/are-takeaway-coffee-cups-recyclable

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/disposable-coffee-cups-how-big-problem-environment-landfill-recycling-incinerate-export-rubbish-a8142381.html

https://www.mcsuk.org/press/MPs-call-for-latte-levy

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/21/uk-environment-department-using-1400-disposable-coffee-cups-a-day

Plastic Statistics

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Rosie Alice

Rosie Alice

Environmental writings and NGO volunteer
Rosie Alice

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