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Are Coffee Cups Recyclable?

Have you ever looked at your recycling bin and wondered if it’s suitable for that disposable cup you’re holding? Don’t worry – a lot of people go through the same experience. In fact, ‘Are coffee cups recyclable?’ is one of the most common questions we receive.

The answer, sadly, is not a straightforward one.

Fortunately, this quick guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about recycling disposable cups, ensuring your waste management is in tip-top shape!

Recycling coffee cups: is it possible?

The good news is that, yes, you can recycle paper coffee cups. However, it is not as easy as simply separating these disposable cups from your general waste. Stick them in your standard household recycling, and they will not be processed by recycling plants.

Why is that the case? This is due to the way that single use cups are manufactured. If they were only made of paper, there would be no problem in sticking them in your recycling bin. The issue is that takeaway cups feature a thin wax or plastic lining. There are various reasons why this lining is used for cups, including to prevent leaking, improve durability, and control extreme temperatures.

These benefits do come with the drawback that recycling is trickier. Due to their construction, the coating has to be stripped and broken down separately. Standard recycling facilities do not have the infrastructure to deal with this task.

However, that doesn’t mean you should continue throwing your disposable cups in a waste bin. There are services available that specialise in recycling paper cups. An example is First Mile, where they send out recycling sacks specifically for coffee cups. Simply fill the bag up, and they will come and collect it for you.

How businesses can help with coffee cup recycling

Of course, coffee cup recycling isn’t only done at home. Businesses also have to take the appropriate steps to help in this area of sustainability. Ranging from coffee shops to offices, from customers to employees, hot beverages are regularly on the menu.

If single use cups are being used, it is important these are recyclable. When buying recyclable cups for hot drinks, you want those made with materials that are recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable. This also extends to the coffee cup lids and carry trays (when applicable). For those that are currently using disposable cups that are not recyclable, ensure you switch over to those that feature the likes of recycled paper.

In a small office setting, it is wise to opt for reusable cups rather than those that are only suitable for a single use. A business can provide these cups – complete with branding – to employees, encouraging them to use them rather than plastic cups or other single use options.


Going back to the main question of ‘Are coffee cups recyclable?’, the answer is a big ‘Yes.’ Okay, a little bit of extra effort is required on your part, from purchasing the right cups to getting assistance from specialist recyclers, but you can maintain your green initiatives while drinking your favourite beverages!

Get in touch and see how we can help you be greener with your takeaway food packaging. Request a catalogue or further info on 0121 289 4295 or alternatively email [email protected].

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