Four solutions to the disposable coffee cup problem

Since last year, when we were all made aware of the UK’s unrecycled cup mountain, some of us have found it hard to buy a takeaway coffee without being wracked with guilt.

In the UK, we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. In theory, they are “recyclable”, but in practice, only a tiny percentage is dealt with sustainably.

Yet so far, there’s no agreed way forward.

Parliament’s environmental audit committee has been hearing the latest thoughts from campaigners and industry on how we can improve on our record in this area.

A lot of the biggest names in takeaway beverages, including Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Pret A Manger and Starbucks, have signed up to a scheme to collect and recycle more of the current type of cups. Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.

But others believe a more fundamental rethink would work better.

Here are four ways the coffee cup waste problem might be tackled.

Frugalpac: ‘Just change the cups’

Conventional cups can be recycled, but only in special facilities, thanks to the lamination that makes them waterproof.

Frugalpac, based in Ipswich in the UK, manufactures cardboard cups that can be recycled in regular recycling plants.

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