This post is part of an attempt to do something like 100 recycling tips for damn near anything in something close to, anyway, 100 days. We’ll see how that goes. When the 100 Recycling Tips are all published here on Easy Ways to Go Green, we’ll do a master list so that every link exists on one single page for everyone to be able to link over to, or to use as a reference guide when questions on how to recycle different things in your life inevitably come up.
How to Recycle 100 Common Things: #7 Used Paper Coffee Cups
We’ve talked about this a lot on Easy Ways to Go Green, mostly by offering alternatives to paper cups for coffee and hot drinks, such as the Eco-Cup. In a country as big as the U.S., one can hardly imagine how many tons of recyclable garbage accumulates by virtue of our daily coffee habits from ubiquitous stores like Starbucks. So can old coffee cups and java jackets or cardboard heat-tempering sleeves be recycled? Some, but not all of them can. Here’s the details.
If you ever wondered why paper cups aren’t made from recycled paper materials in the first place, here’s some solid info on why. Now let’s get back to how to recycle paper cups and coffee jackets. Most paper coffee cups, as you may have noticed, are coated with a wax substance, often on both the inside and the outside, in order for the paper to hold a hot liquid. And this waxy substance tends to make recycling the cups a tough task on any sort of grand scale. So simply throwing the cup into the recycling bin rather than the trash can doesn’t insure that it will actually be recycled.
Start by asking around your local coffee shops — many of them will recycle the cups for you as part of their own recycling program. Not all do, though, so you may have to ask a few, but in the end, it’s worth it. Starbucks in both Canada and Seattle have in-store recycling programs, and chains in San Francisco offer a composting program in-store too. Check around in your local area for more details on chain coffee shops and recycling paper cup programs.
Another option? Try composting them. That appears to work nicely, according to accounts around the web.
Helpful Links on Recycling Used Paper Coffee Cups:
Check out eHOW for more info on recycling paper coffee cups.
An article on Treehugger that talks about Starbucks specifically, with regard to paper cups and recycling.
Information on Earth 911 on Starbucks recycling program and break-through.
Paper coffee cup recycling info on Recycle This UK.