Can Coffee Cups Be Recycled?






Few things seem higher on the agenda these days than making sure we take care of the planet and all its inhabitants. When you grab a takeaway coffee in a coffee shop do you automatically think that all coffee cups can be recycled? Its not always the case.

What’s the problem?

Basically, it is pollution on a monumental scale. Eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the sea every year. It’s contaminating and killing vast swathes of marine life.

Not all plastic kills the inhabitants of the sea but a huge amount of it is ingested by fish and other sea creatures and they eventually make their way back into the human food chain.

If we keep going the way we are then it is projected that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

What’s all this got to do with coffee cups?

Coffee cups are recyclable aren’t they?

Many people take great care to ensure that if something can be recycled then it goes into the relevant bin to be taken away and turned back into something that can be used again many times over.

Coffee is one of the most enjoyed beverages in the world with an estimated 500 billion coffee cups produced globally every year but what most people do not realise is that we cannot recycle them. All the takeaway cups you get from your local high street coffee shop are NOT recyclable.

To avoid leaking, the paper or cardboard outer casing is lined with plastic and therefore because the composition cannot be separated or easily identified then they just end up going into landfill.

There are far too many single-use coffee cups being made that cannot be recycled.

What’s being done about it?

The large coffee chains have introduced a discount scheme if you bring in your own reusable cup to encourage less use of a single-use non-recyclable cup.

Costa offers a 25p discount, Pret a Manger’s discount is 50p which since being doubled from 25p has seen 20 times more people using their own cups and Starbucks also offer a 25p discount if you bring your own cup plus there is a 5p surcharge if you use one of their own takeaway coffee cups.

It’s a bit of a hassle though to bring in your own cup AND then pay £3 for a cup of coffee so what else can be done to help?

How can we all help with coffee cup recycling?

You can certainly save yourself a small amount of money and take advantage of the “bring in your own” cup every time you visit a coffee shop but will you remember to bring it every time and actually the coffee does not taste as good in one of your own cups.

Also, you may not already own a flask type sealable cup so it will set you back £5-£10 if you want to go down that road to start with.

The best way to help with recycling AND save yourself £54 per month is to make your own coffee with a home coffee machine

If you regularly spend £3 a day on coffee but you don’t have your own coffee machine you will be surprised at how cheap and how quick it is to make yourself a coffee that tastes as good as you can get in any coffee shop and costs a fraction of the price.

Forget the great big espresso machines that you see in Costa or Starbucks, they cost thousands and look like an alien with all the nozzles and buttons and dials.

There are many different ways that you can brew coffee but the 6 most popular methods used in the UK today are:


The primary reason that you are visiting a coffee shop in the first place is a combination of the quality of the coffee and convenience. Depending on which home coffee option you go for, you can get both of those without having to venture into a coffee shop.

Filter coffee machines work by adding ground coffee to a filter and pressing a button which will push water through the coffee and into a waiting jug beneath. it really is that simple and you can pick up one that does the job for under £25. Some examples are the Swan SK13130N filter coffee machine or the Geepas filter coffee machine. Both are extremely good value for money and will produce a good cup of coffee within 5 minutes.

You can see a detailed article here of all the best filter coffee machines in the UK

If 5 minutes is simply too long for you in the morning you can consider a POD coffee machine. You’ll pay a little more than a filter coffee machine but you can have a café quality coffee ready within 1 minute.

Pop in a capsule and press a button and the coffee will be delivered inside 60 seconds. Nespresso sits at the premium end of the POD coffee machine market with some fantastic tasting coffee but if that’s a little too expensive for you then Tassimo or Dolce Gusto are a couple of very popular alternatives.

The best value Nespresso machine is the Essenza. It’s worth taking a look because it is probably cheaper than you think.

Sometimes the original way is best and for the price of a Pizza you can pick up a stovetop coffeemaker. Bialetti is the original and most famous stovetop coffee brand but there are other options such as the Godmorn espresso maker that will produce a decent cup of coffee within a few minutes.

Just add water to the base, add coffee to the basket, screw the top on and place on the stove for a few minutes for a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Bean to cup coffee machines are the ultimate indulgence. These machines will replicate the process that a barista uses when you order a cappuccino or latte in Costa. One press of a button and the coffee beans are ground, tamped and extracted into your cup without any intervention from you. You can even have the frothed up milk automatically added for you as well if you are super lazy.

The Delonghi ETAM 29.510.B is the best bean to cup coffee machine on the market and represents excellent value for money for a fully automated espresso machine.

For a true coffee shop experience take a look at the Sage Barista Pro. Ultimate personalisation will provide you with whatever is your drink of choice at the touch of a button.

So whether you are looking to spend £20 or £1000 there are plenty of alternatives to spending your hard-earned cash in a coffee shop on a coffee that is served up in a non-recyclable cup that is contributing to the pollution of the world’s oceans.

By not buying a takeaway coffee cup in the first place you are genuinely helping to solve the unnecessary waste problem that exists in the world today and as a bonus, you get to drink the same quality of coffee that you would get for £3 on the high street for 10% of that price.

It’s a win, win, win.

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