What's up? it's just a coffee cup...
Although you may see it as "just a coffee cup" you probably use two or more a week, maybe even more.
That averages out over 100 polyethylene (plastic) lined paper vessels every year.
Assuming all those other folk you see in Costa or Starbucks do the same (apart from that savvy saver who is already pocketing the pennies for their conscious decision to purchase a travel mug, and use it!) then that adds up to a lot of cups.
Around 2.5 billion in fact.
So whats a couple billion cups? They're paper? They can be recycled. Well actually this is a misconception.
In reality, less than 1% of coffee cups are actually recycled.
Firstly paper cups cannot be made from renewable sources because of contamination concerns.
And whilst yes some paper cups can be recycled, the polyethylene lining -that makes the cup water proof- poses several problems.
Not only does the polythene lining dramatically slow down the time it takes for the rest of the disposable to decompose, it is also bonded so incredibly tightly to the paper that is very difficult to separate for recycling.
In fact, there are only two recycling facilities in the UK capable of processing such material. And while some of the larger chains are slowly introducing coffee cup recycling stations in-store (Starbucks and Costa, for example), it seems that the most environmentally option would be to invest in a re-usable coffee cup.
Not only will you help to avoid contributing to the 2.5 billion coffee cups sent to landfill each year, but you can also stay ahead of the 25p 'latte levy' rumoured to be imposed on disposable cups.
You will also benefit from various discounts in your favourite high street coffee shops for taking your own cup!
This handy page summarises the benefits of taking your own coffee cup out and about, including which high street coffee shops offer discounts (up to 50p per drink!).
So where do you start? Some of our favourites are:
Joco - glass reusable coffee cups which won't affect the taste of your drink
The Rice Way - they are made from rice husk (the waste material from milling process) and is biodegradable
KeepCup - made from BPA-free plastic that is also recyclable, with some fab glass options too!
We've also highlighted below a plastic-free option from Ecoffee Cup, made from a sustainable source - bamboo fibre (which also means you can avoid that plastic taste common to some reusable cups)!