To-go coffee is known for producing substantial waste (cups, lids, sleeves, stoppers and straws), but even though coffee shops have done their best to encourage reusable cups, this year we will be revisiting the wasteful days of old due to the pandemic – reusable cups are off the table. Just think of the impact to-go coffee can have when Dunkin Donuts alone has 8,500+ locations nationwide.
While coffee gives a feel-good jolt of energy, it leaves in its wake an unimaginable amount of single-use cups that pile up in our landfills. So, what’s an environmentally conscious coffee drinker to do? Well, first, choose to reuse whenever possible. It’s always best to enjoy your java (or tea) in a reusable cup. Get out your favorite coffee mug, or folding cup (these are so amazing for on-the-go!), and toss it in your bag or car so you’ve always got it handy. By doing this, you’re helping prevent about half a trillion single-use cups from potentially entering the waste stream.
But we also understand that we all want to keep our local coffee shop afloat right now but supporting them.. so what to do?
When a reusable coffee cup isn’t an option, take note that only certain parts of single-use cups are recyclable. For example, most paper cups are coated with plastic to prevent leaks, which means they belong in the trash. Still, the lid and paper sleeve generally are recyclable. On the chill side, most plastic cold cups and their lids are recyclable, but plastic straws are a no-no for the recycling bin because they’re too small to make it through the sorting equipment. Rule of thumb: Anything smaller than a credit card should never be placed in the recycling bin.
Understanding what can and cannot be recycled in curbside recycling is tricky.
So, here are the Do’s and Don’ts of Single-Use Cup Recycling:
- Can be recycled:
- Plastic lids
- Cardboard sleeves
- Plastic cups
- Can NOT be recycled:
- Hot coffee cups
- Plastic straws
When it comes to recycling, everyone plays a part. The website Recycling Simplified offers really good tips, videos, and resources to help reduce contamination rates.
If you want to help, choose to reuse and enjoy your coffee from your favorite reusable cup and feel twice as good!