Australasians are renowned for their coffee. A recent study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that nearly half the population drinks coffee on a regular basis. Meanwhile across the Tasman, another study has found that 52% of surveyed New Zealanders will go out of their way for a decent cup of coffee.
But while many of us partake in this daily treat, we may be unwittingly contributing to a huge environmental problem. This is the focus of Craig Reucassel’s new ABC series War on Waste.
According to Reucassel, Australians use more than 50,000 takeaway coffee cups every half an hour. That totals 1 billion cups each year. Despite many of us putting these cups in the recycling, it turns out many of them are not in fact recyclable.
The problem lies in the cups’ heatproof lining which is often made out of non-recyclable plastic. Even takeaway cups that promote themselves to be ‘greener’ can have a lining that is only biodegradable at a commercial level, “They don’t bio-degrade in your home compost,” explains Reucassel. “They have to be separated from the rest of the waste treatment. There are so many different cups out there, it makes it a nightmare.”
So what is an environmentally savvy coffee drinker to do? Reucassel recommends bringing your own cup where possible. “It’s better to avoid the waste in the first place than trying to recycle it,” he says.
War on Waste will be showing on ABC in May 2017.