I was asked a few times if takeaway coffee cups were recyclable and weather they go into the plastic or paper container and I actually asked that myself several times, until I decided to do a little bit of research and seek a well informed answer.
Recycling coffee cups is actually harder than you thought, because they are made out of mixed materials: plastic and paper. In order to recycle them, the two materials need to be separated and for that you need a special technology, which only a few recycling plants have. In fact, the only place in England that can recycle coffee cups is in Stainland, West Yorkshire. Other cups are sent for recycling in Cumbria, but only 1% of the 3bn of coffee cups used every year only in the U.K. end up being recycled.
What makes the situation even worse is the fact that we live under the impression that these cups are being recycled and therefore we keep using them. But think about it this way: how long does it take you to finish your coffee? An hour? two hours? you use the paper cup for such a short amount of time but it takes so much effort to recycle it or even worse – it will end up uselessly filling up the ground as trash. Is it worth it? Why not bring your reusable cup? Companies like Starbucks even offer discounts for those who bring their own cups for takeaway coffee. Not to mention that you can find cute portable coffee mugs for affordable prices in charity shops or shops like Poundland. You could even prepare your own coffee at home. This will save you money and it is more time efficient than you would think because the time you would normally spend in the queue in a coffee shop, can be used to make coffee at home. So think before you drink!