Woman using a single use coffee cup

Why single use coffee cups aren’t widely recycled?

The treat of a coffee to-go from your favourite coffee shop is something many of us enjoy, with 30% of Londoners buy at least one takeaway hot drink a week. But at what cost?

Most of us are aware that single use coffee cups are not being widely recycled and thus are bad for the planet. In fact, only 0.25% of single use coffee cups are currently recycled in the UK, leaving 99.75% of these single use cups to go to landfill or incinerators.

What is the problem?

Single use coffee cups have a plastic lining on the inside. This makes them difficult to recycle as they can’t be treated simply as paper or as plastic. They need to be sent to a specialist recycling facility which is able to separate the paper fibres from the plastic lining.

Sadly, the messaging around the recyclability of single use coffee cups is not clear, leading to many people incorrectly popping them into mixed recycling bins – where they will not be recycled and where they may even cause the whole bin to go to landfill if they are not able to remove the cups at sorting level.

Some coffee shops and councils are beginning to put out dedicated coffee cup recycling bins to try and address this issue. People will use dedicated cup recycling bins if they are convenient – but with most drinking their to-go coffee when they are on the move, the bin by the coffee shop itself is not a convenient option. The infrastructure is simply not good enough to get more of these single use products to the correct recycling facilities.

What about compostable varieties?

Even these are not as green as they sound. Compostable cups have to be sent to industrial facilities to be composted at high-temperatures – they can not simply be thrown on a compost heap at home.


Reusable coffee cups. Think Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Save money when you take your reusable cup into your local coffee shop – up to a 50p saving can be had with each cup! They reduce single use waste, make our coffee habit more sustainable and can save us money in the long run.

Looking for a good reusable option? Our Ohelo insulated coffee cup is made to be user-friendly – it is 100% leakproof so it can easily be popped into your bag whether full or empty. Join us in our fight against single use!

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