Make the Switch

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Why is it so important to switch to a reusable coffee cup? Our love for take away coffee comes at a cost. We need to say no to the disposable coffee cup, the proof is in the plastic!

In Australia alone we produce more than 1 billion paper coffee cups each year. Dropping past our local cafe to grab a take away has fast become a staple in our culture. For many, including myself,  the disposable take away cup itself has become synonymous with the relaxation and enjoyment of the drink.

But it’s unsettling to learn that our passion for drinking coffee generates 7,000 tonnes of waste each year! Most disposable take away coffee cups are not recyclable. In order for a disposable cup to hold liquid, it needs a wax or plastic (polyethylene) lining to keep it watertight. This prevents them from being processed with your average paper recycling.

The plastic coffee cup lid tends to be used for such a brief moment before being disposed and while technically it can be recycled, how many of us bother to place them in the correct bin. More often than not they end up in the general waste or, as I have found, scattered all over Avalon. After their one time use these lids will survive in the environment for hundreds of years, eventually breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, entering our waterways and polluting our oceans. Millions of animals die each year from mistaking these plastic pieces for food and toxic chemicals are transferred into the food chain.

Small plastic pieces found on a beach in Sydney  Photo credit: Peter Rae via SMH

As someone who actually likes to drink through the lid, I recently learnt that the majority of disposable coffee cup lids are made of polystyrene, a grade 6 plastic. This is the type of plastic you want to avoid altogether as it can leach toxins into food products, especially when heated.  Coffee cup lids with the plastic code 1 to 7 are accepted by Pittwater council in recycling. While this is definitely helpful in avoiding landfill, it’s not a sustainable solution as not 100% of collected recycling ends up being recycled.

So what you can do:

  • Bring your own reusable to-go cup (check out our glass reusable Living Ocean cup)
  • Appreciate your local cafes that support the reusable cup
  • Say no thank you to the plastic coffee cup lid

 

References and links for more information:

http://www.cleanup.org.au/PDF/au/cua_plastic_recycling_fact_sheet.pdf

https://www.greenpeace.org.au/blog/which-bin-do-i-put-my-coffee-cup-in/

http://uq.edu.au/sustainability/docs/resources/ps_coffeecups.pdf

http://www.thelittleblackcoffeecup.com/blog/togo

http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/79783/Sort_it_out-what_to_do_with_your_waste_Revised_201023_11_2010.pdf