Our taste for convenience is creating a throwaway coffee cup catastropheView all products
- 3.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK – that's 37 per person! This mountain of single-use plastics and cardboard is growing as our obsession with coffee and hot drinks increases each year
- Most single-use cups are made from multiple materials like paper, card and a plastic film. This makes them almost impossible to recycle, and the use of plastic means more demand for petrochemicals (which are derived from fossil fuels) as well as meaning they'll last for hundreds of years, creating microplastics as they break down
- Without being properly cleaned, many single-use cups which are advertised as recyclable are not actually suitable for recycling facilities. Compostable single-use cups may seem better, but they often still need to be industrially composted to be broken down properly, so need to be placed in bins destined for industrial composting, rather than put into a regular waste bin
Reusable cups are a great way of pushing back against our throwaway coffee cup culture. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can drink your brew the way you want to, and many coffee shops will even give you discount, saving you money as well as reducing waste. If you're concerned about the weight of carrying a cup, there are plenty of lightweight options around now, including bamboo.
Reusable Plastic Cups
While plastic isn't perfect, the best change is to move away from throwaway disposable cups. While plastic isn't perfect, over time you can make a huge difference. It's estimated you'd only need to use a reusable coffee cup made from polypropylene approximately 20 times before you begin reducing your impact – so it could take less than a month before you start seeing the positive benefits. If it's made from recycled or plant-based plastics, even better!
Reusable Bamboo Cups
Reusable cups made from materials like bamboo can break down quicker than plastics and won't leave microplastics behind in the process. Bamboo is a very light material, making it great for throwing into a bag before leaving the house. Bamboo can be a great low impact material, since it grows very quickly, requires fewer resources to grow, and is naturally resistant to pests.
Glass & Metal Reusable Cups
Glass and metal are great durable alternatives to single-use cups. While they may have the biggest upfront energy usage, they're also the most long-lasting options and can be recycled at the end of their life. Thicker materials like glass and metal are also better at holding and retaining heat.