Paper cups perform a simple task but can be complicated for people who want to recycle. The cups do contain paper, of course, but a thin coating of plastic or wax makes the recycling process much more difficult than your run-of-the-mill sheet of office paper.
Frequent Paper Cup Recycling Questions
Are paper cups lined with something to make them liquid resistant?
Yes. Paper cups are coated with a plastic or wax lining to add temperature control, leak control and durability.
Does that lining make them non-recyclable?
Plastic and wax linings prevent paper cups from getting soggy as you sip, but these linings are usually too difficult to separate during the paper recycling process. A select few communities accept paper cups for recycling, but a specialized process must be put in place to recycle these materials. Jump to recycling locator to see if your community accepts paper cups.
Can you recycle to-go coffee cups?
Due to wax and plastic linings, very few communities accept to-go coffee cups for recycling. Coffee companies have recognized the need to create a recyclable cup, and two Cup Summits were held in 2010 to discuss the issue. Starbucks plans to lead the way by ensuring that all of its cups are recyclable by 2015, but critics still question why it’s taking so long.
To fight your personal battle against cup waste, bring a reusable travel mug with you on trips to the coffee shop, or try one of these handy reusable replacements to help you green your morning cup.