How to Recycle Paper Cups

Your classic to-go coffee or soda cup is designed for one-time use, but unfortunately recycling at this point is basically nonexistent in the U.S. That’s because all cups are lined with a thin coating of plastic that can’t be easily separated during the recycling process. The most innovation on paper cup disposal has come in the field of composting, and that is still limited at best.

Paper Cup Recycling Preparation

  1. Unfortunately, odds are pretty good that you’ll have to throw the paper cup away. However, there is better news for its accessories.
  2. You can remove the paper sleeve for coffee cups and recycle that with corrugated cardboard. The plastic lid should be recyclable if your local program accepts #1-7 plastics in non-bottle form. The straw or stirrer should be thrown away.
  3. If you have a backyard compost bin and you purchase bio-based paper cups, you can try to compost them. The paper will break down, but you may have difficulty with the plastic lining.

Why Recycle/Compost Paper Cups

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials


Frequent Paper Cup Recycling Questions


Additional Reading