Plastic coffee cups are harming our environment
With science developing the way it has over the past few decades, we’re starting to see the damage single-use plastic items are having on the environment, it is time to switch to a reusable coffee cup!
British documentaries and TV shows such as Hugh’s War on Waste and David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet have really pushed the problem towards the public domain in more recent times, furthering our understanding of this damaging effect.
So what is the issue with disposable coffee cups and how can we, as a nation, prevent coffee cup wastage?
Companies have created a throwaway culture
On the whole, UK consumers are pretty solid when it comes to recycling rates with Scotland and Wales in particular both making the top 15 according to the United Nation’s Statistics Division.
The issue we have is that large corporations continue to create products and packaging that isn’t recyclable. Disposable takeaway coffee cups are a prime example of this.
Companies and cafes across the country still use what to the naked eye looks like paper cups but whilst they look and feel like paper cups, they’re not in fact recyclable.
The disposable cups contain polyethylene which inhibits cardboard from being recycled effectively. It’s for this reason we’ve become so accustomed to simply binning our cups.
What happens next?
It’s almost hard to believe that the UK throws away over 2 billion coffee cups a year and it is this staggering figure that causes environmental damage.
A House of Commons report found that the coffee cups ending up in landfills produce 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of having an extra 33,000 cars on the road.
And it’s not just the issue of polluting CO2 entering the atmosphere!
Microplastics from the coffee cups can and do enter our waterways and oceans, having a devastating effect on marine life and ecosystems.
You should also bear in mind that:
- Each cup takes around 0.58 litres of water to produce
- Each cup has a carbon footprint of over 60 grams
- The cardboard or paper for each coffee cup has to be made from virgin materials due to contamination precautions
- Disposable items encourage a dangerous cycle of throwing away items
What can we do to help?
Whilst the facts and figures paint a worrisome picture, there are ways we can collectively combat this wasteful practice.
If you frequent cafes before or after work it’s definitely worth investing in a reusable coffee cup such as those made by goBambu. With 16% of us visiting coffee shops on a daily basis, one individual could potentially save hundreds of disposable cups going to landfills by making such a simple change.
That’s of course not mentioning the money you could be saving by using your own cup.
You could also decide to start brewing your own coffee at home and taking it with you on the go. The speciality coffee range in our shop here at Quirky Coffee Co far surpasses that in chain coffee shops like Starbucks and Costa.
Whilst we have some way to go before we’re completely waste-free as a nation, this article shows that at least we can start taking the necessary steps immediately to get there.