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Can You Help Solve This Problem?

Since we went back into lockdown, this sight seems to be becoming more common. The issue is complicated, but the problem is that:

  • most take-away cups are made of mixed materials (paper and plastic or bio-plastic), and so can only be recycled by specialist facilities

  • many chain coffee shops do have a system for taking used cups back from customers and sending them on to specialist recycling facility, but at the moment, customers seem reluctant to use this service

  • being mixed materials, they shouldn’t be put into a recycling bin,either a public one, or your own domestic one

  • cups that go into public waste bins, or in your black bin at home, are classed as 'mixed waste' and end up going for incineration or to landfill

So, what can you do …...

  • Most coffee shops are still happy for customers to take in their own refillable cups – this is by far the best option, and you might even get a discount for doing so

  • Most chain coffee shops offer a recycling service for used cups, so make sure you use it. In most cases they will take any cups back, not just their own

  • If neither of these options apply in your favourite coffee shop, ask them to reconsider their position

  • If all else fails, don’t put your used cup into a public bin, or a recycling bin, but take it home, wash it (they can be washed in a dishwasher!), and use it for something else. Here are a few suggestions :

- Use your cups as plantpots for sowing seeds (you will need to poke a few holes in the bottom to allow drainage)

- Use your cups to bake cupcakes in

- Use your cups as pen/pencil holders – decorate them with wrapping paper first, use them on their own or join a few different size cups together to make a more sophisticated desk organiser

- Use your cup as a scoop, e.g. for pet food or cat litter or garden compost

- Make a paper cup garland – paint or decorate them to suit the occasion, make two holes in the bottom, then string them all up (start saving now for next Christmas!)

- Make a gift cup – decorate the cup, put a gift inside, and tie it up with ribbon


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