The UK's coffee problem

No market for contaminated packaging

Paper Recycling batches

The most common ‘disposable’ coffee cups, the ones made from paper, also happen to be lined with plastic to make them waterproof and able to hold fluids. However, the average person isn’t aware that most recycling facilities cannot recycle these because they are unable to remove this lining. On top of that, once the cups are used, the paper part of the cup is classified as ‘contaminated’ because the coffee, a food substance, touched it.

Recycling is a business that operates on thin margins, contaminated material cost more than they’re worth to recycle and so any contamination in the batch usually means the whole lot is thrown away.

Did you know 1 in 5 of us visit a coffee shop every day? a report by ‘Which?’ found that 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK. That report was from 2011 and nearly 10 years later and estimates are now up to 5 BILLION!

Using more water than they hold

It takes 0.35 litres of water to brew a coffee but making the cup uses much more. It takes a whole (2.5 litres) just to make the flimsy plastic lid, another (5.6 litres) for the paper cup and sleeve meaning we use 8.1L just to hold 500ml for a few minutes. It’s not convenient, it’s stupid and a large amount of these cups end up in waterways as trash.

River plastic pollution

Who pays for the damage?

Wallet filled with cash

70 million cups of coffee are consumed per day and of those 500,000 cups are littered across your streets and parks every day. Adding to that many studies on littering have concluded what everybody already knew litter encourages more littering, it’s a vicious cycle that ends in a sea of trash and poverty.

And can you guess who covers the £550 million clean-up bill? The local council, using tax money - or in other words, you pay the bill.
The businesses that produce the waste get to keep all the profits and only have to pay 10% of the disposal cost of all the unrecyclable trash that they created and the rest is on you.

UK anti-pollution plans

Seat of UK Government Westminster palace

The UK government’s 25 Year environment Plan committed the UK to eliminate all ‘avoidable’ plastic waste by 2042. Since we are the fifth highest consumer of single-use plastics when compared to the EU member states this might be harder to achieve than they think.

Currently, only 26 percent of the UK’s plastic waste is recycled, 55 percent is sent to landfill and 18 percent is sent to energy recovery (burnt.)

The UK uses 4.1 billion single-use drinks cups and lids and by 2030, forecasts predict that the UK will use 33 percent more.


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