What does your coffee cup say about you?

And what can you say about coffee cups? Edge Environment is passionate about driving positive change for environmental betterment, and we work hard at it. So nothing makes us prouder than seeing clients progress on their journey to sustainability – even if it’s as simple as opting out of disposable cups. In this case, the power for change is (literally) in your hands.

Getting a morning coffee hit is a ritual for most of us – as automated as setting the alarm, hopping on the train and checking the news. But here’s the blunt reality of a disposable cup habit:

  • Forgot your cup? Go back up!
    City of Sydney’s CitySwitch/Better Buildings Partnership team – “Forgot your cup? Go back up!”

    Each year, Australians are responsible for 1,000,000 coffee cups being sent to landfill. If you get a takeaway coffee every workday – you’re responsible for 240 every year.

  • All coffee cups, regardless of type (and misuse of the recycling mobius) are non-recyclable by conventional means and should NEVER be placed in a bottle or paper recycling bin (where they are a contaminant and actually de-value the recycling stream).
  • ‘Compostable/biodegradable’ cups are only recoverable if they find their way to an organics recycling facility.  Unfortunately, there are very few ways for people to get cups to these facilities and they also should not be placed in conventional co-mingled or paper recycling services. Which means they likely end up in landfill, where biodegradability or compostibility is no improvement to environmental performance.
  • Due to food regulations in Australia, the cardboard used in coffee cups comes from virgin fibre, similar in value to high quality card stock you can print on.

With our Life Cycle Assessment goggles on, we should also mention that we’re not convinced that a disposable, recyclable cup (were it available) is a significant improvement on them going to landfill. Of course there are assumptions tied to this, but with food regulations requiring virgin material to be used in construction, their life cycle impact is greatest in manufacture.


So how do we change?

Coffee break with the Terracycle team (& reusable cups!)

Disposable society is a relatively new construct and also a very easy habit to change. Take a mug from the office, buy a reusable mug, or reuse an empty jam jar. You’ll forget sometimes, but don’t let that stop you from starting.

If you love social media, try @byomugshots and share a photo of you doing the right thing. If you want to learn more, Google or call us at Edge!.

And share this with your friends over a (sit-down) coffee – its one simple thing we can do to reduce the daily environmental impact of our lives. Who knows, you might even get a discount on your brew.

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