Five Surprising Facts About Your Disposable Coffee Cup
As we countdown to April 22, get the facts and the best zero-waste solutions at a discount and through giveaways to help you tread lightly on the planet. This week let’s talk about the easily replaceable disposable coffee cup.
Get the Facts: Disposable Coffee Cups
1. They pollute our planet at a staggering rate
Americans use 120 billion paper, plastic and foam cups every year. When placed end to end they would circle the planet a shocking 333 times. A survey by the National Coffee Association found that Americans are drinking coffee more than ever. 62% drink coffee every day and 48% who buy coffee at a quick-service restaurant, cafe or convenience store do so though a drive-through. That’s a lot of disposable cups and plastic lids heading to landfill.
2. They’re not recyclable or compostable
Single-use coffee cups cannot be composted or recycled due to the mixture of the paper exterior and the plastic lining. The combination is great if you need a leak-proof, insulated vessel, but not so great if you want to make less trash. Separating the plastic lining from the paper is both expensive and complicated. If a disposable coffee cup is “wish cycled”—tossed in the recycling bin with the hope that it will be recycled—it will either be tossed into landfill, or worse, contaminate the higher-value recycled plastic and lead to more costs and lower recycling rates for waste sorters.
3. They breakdown in our environment
Whether your disposable coffee cup is made of Styrofoam, or a combination of polyethylene, polypropylene and paper, it will head straight to landfill where it will break down over time, polluting our land and waterways. Tiny microplastics have been found absolutely everywhere, including in Antarctica. As marine life eats the microplastic, it migrates up the food chain and eventually lands on our plates. Anything we can do to reduce plastic pollution in our environment will help reduce the possible negative health effects on animals and humans.
4. They could be affecting your health
Coffee, tea and other hot drinks can cause the cup’s plastic lining to leach into the hot liquid. Coffee cup lids are usually made from polystyrene (polystyrene that’s expanded with air is known as Styrofoam), a possible carcinogen. Together with the polyethylene lining, your hot drink is basically bathing in plastic, and we have yet to know the health risks of ingesting plastic on a daily basis. Read about the concerning health effects of your single-use coffee cup, and plastic coffee cup lid.
5. They’ll cost you
Thanks to an ordinance initiated to reduce plastic pollution in Berkeley, California, customers have to pay an extra 25 cents if they want a disposable cup. Luckily, some cafes don’t even offer single-use cups for takeaway, and instead charge customers a deposit to borrow a reusable cup. Recently Starbucks tested a “Borrow A Cup” program where customers could pay a deposit for a reusable loaner. Coffee and tea drinkers can save money by supporting coffee shops that offer discounts for bringing a reusable cup. It definitely pays to reuse!
Flash Sale + Giveaway
The good news? You can easily reduce disposable coffee cup waste. Head over to the U-Konserve Instagram to enter our Earth Day Countdown Giveaways, and ukonserve.com to get details about our Earth Day Countdown Flash Sales. Cheers to refill, not landfill.