Disposable coffee cups: how big a problem are they?

By MiNDFOOD

Three cups of coffee sitting on a glass top office table or cafe.  Catering for office meeting or drinks in coffee shop.
Three cups of coffee sitting on a glass top office table or cafe. Catering for office meeting or drinks in coffee shop.
If you are in the habit of grabbing a takeaway coffee on the way to work, or after dropping the kids to school, research shows you may be doing more damage than you think.
According to EU-based One Planet Zero, 500 billion single-use coffee cups are used and disposed of around the world every year.
 
Only one per 400 cups get recycled and a single-use coffee cup will outlast your time on earth.
 
It’s not just the end waste that’s the issue, about 200 litres of water is used in the production of one disposable cup and it’s production sends about 0.11kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Even though disposable coffee cups look like they are made from paper, they actually contain plastic which takes hundreds of years to break down and the lids cannot be recycled. Even when the plastic does break down into tiny microplastic, this can be ingested by animals which are potentially toxic for every living thing in the food chain.
 
 
Reusable coffee cups are not always convenient, but new research shows they can make a huge impact on the environment. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne looked at the environmental impact of using a KeepCup instead of a disposable cup for one coffee a day for a year. The study found using a KeepCup could cut “global warming potential” by as much as 92 per cent, reduce water use by up to 95 per cent and cut landfill by about 95 per cent when compared with using a normal disposable cup.
 
So next time you grab your latte on the run, it’s worth having a reusable cup in your bag for the environment, and for the generations to come.

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