Australia’s obsession with coffee has led to an extra 7,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from disposable cups. While many may think that these ‘harmless’ paper cups are recyclable, they aren’t and here’s why.
Australia’s Love Affair with Coffee
Whether you’re a fan of the latte, cappuccino, macchiato, straight black or even the classic flat white. There is no denying Australian’s love their morning coffee on the go. While some people have reusable coffee cups handy during morning rush, the majority of coffee drinkers opt for the fast and easy “disposable” coffee cup to hold their morning brew.
While this is fantastic for both the local economy and our own mental well-being, there are some negative side effects to that morning coffee.
That Persistent Plastic Lining
In fact, the plastic lining in your morning coffee cup will outlive you! While the paper part of the cup will break down rather quickly.
That is still only if the plastic has the perfect environmental conditions to break down.
If not, your disposable coffee cup is not going anywhere anytime soon.
A Tree for your Convenience
More than 1 billion coffee cups from 720,510 trees are made each year in Australia alone.
This isn’t including those that we import at lower prices from developing nations. These nations are destroying their own old growth forests for our convenience.
Throwing Environmental Damage to the Curb with reusable solution
Manufacturers such as Biopak and EcoSoulife are trying to bring awareness to the issue of single use cups by using more sustainable materials. These materials break down without harming the environment, but they are still not widely available.
Baristas who are making a difference
While it’s not always cost effective for small businesses to use more environmentally friendly single use coffee cups. There are those that are trying to help reduce the amount of waste by employing sustainable alternatives.
Some coffee houses use single use cups that do not have a plastic lining. Many of these cafes are members of responsible cafes, which is a telltale sign that they are actively against the use of single use cups that harm the environment.
It’s now becoming more common to find coffee shops that encourage their patrons to slow down, sit in and enjoy their coffee from a reusable cup rather than the hit and run approach to their caffeine shot.
Some wonderful café’s even reward you with a free or cheaper coffee if you bring your own reusable coffee cup.
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Taking matters into your own hands with reusable coffee cups
Let’s face it, you are probably unlikely to give up your morning coffee anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the environment has to pay.
One of the best ways to help reduce the amount of waste caused by single use cups is to change how you consume coffee.
Having a reusable coffee cup in your bag or at the office gives quick access to an alternative to the single use cup.
By having one on hand it’s possible to support your favourite coffee shop and reduce the impact that ‘disposable’ cups have on the environment.
Finding the right alternative, a short guide to reusable coffee cups
When looking at investing in a reusable coffee cup it’s important to take the following into account;
- Size matters
Some cafes will limit the amount poured into a cup based on the size of their own cups. Each café will have different sizes based on where they source their disposable cups.
Though on average the size for a small is 280mL and regular is up to 400mL.
- The right design
Reusable coffee cups can be made from a number of different materials. From stainless steel, plastic and glass to food grade silicone.
All of these materials have their pros and cons. As coffee is all about flavor, our choice is silicone as it’s tough and durable, recyclable and most importantly doesn’t leach flavor.
Making a difference, one coffee at a time
Many bloggers such as the environmental, great forest and living ocean, have commented on the need to adopt paperless offices. Which extends past the printer and to that coffee cup next to the keyboard.
Progress in this field is often slow. Not every café is going to switch to sustainable products overnight, and neither are the manufacturers.
As people begin to refuse single use cups with their coffee, proprietors will adapt and adopt the same ideals their patrons display.
In the end the power lies with you to make the switch and show others how it’s done.