Takeaway coffee cups are costing us more than just cash with only 1 in 400 being recycled

How many coffees do you buy a week? If you’re anything like us here in the JUS News newsroom, it’s edging towards ‘unacceptable’ amounts of caffeine.

But where do our takeaway coffee cups go once we’ve drunk all the goodness and realised, more often than not, we cannot lob them in the recycling like our sandwich wrappers or crisp packets?

Our investigation into #SheffRubbish suggests that many end up being blown around the city after simply being dropped in the street or thrown out of car windows.

And even those that are disposed of responsibly can take up landfill space that is rapidly running out.

Your favourite barista brew is costing more than you think, not necessarily in cost, but in its impact on our environment.

With 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups being used in the UK every year, and only 1 in 400 being recycled, it begins to add up.

Costa Coffee has launched an initiative where they will provide recycling points in 2000 stores across the country promising to recycle ‘any cup’, including not just their own but also those from competitors.

In a press release, Costa said they will be “continuing to explore new ways of investing in and tackling recyclability”.

How effective are these initiatives?

In research conducted by Frugalpac, results showed fewer than 10% of people are using similar in-house recycling points to Costa’s recycling scheme, which raises questions about their usefulness and effectiveness in real life situations.

Although it seems businesses are trying to tackle the issue of recycling items which are typically difficult to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way on a national scale, are local businesses attempting to usher the blame elsewhere?

Multiple Sheffield coffee shops were quick to point out that once a customer leaves their premises with a takeaway coffee cup, it is no longer the shop’s responsibility and it is up to the customer to recycle the item.

Is there more that businesses can do on a local scale to help this? Mark McCormick, owner of Coffee Moco café in Sheffield, did not think so.

He said that in order to ensure takeaway coffee cups reach health and safety standards, they often have to be covered in a plastic film or wax to stop contents leaking, and it is this that stops them from being easily recycled.

Costa Coffee cups have one single plastic film on the inside of the cup which means it is easy to separate during the recycling process.

Mr McCormick said: “Coffee cups get a focus because they are so regularly used, but it’s a drop in the ocean when everything is covered in plastic packaging [in shops].”

Coffee drinking culture is expanding, but how do we stop the amount of used cups we send to landfill expanding at the same rate?