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The battle with the disposable coffee cup

15 September 2016

Our on-the-go lifestyles and passionate love for caffeine makes using disposable cups a natural behaviour for us.

But it’s thought that on average in the UK, over 8 million paper cups are used each day and only a small fraction are correctly recycled.

Recycling disposable paper cups isn’t as simple as it may seem – you can’t just toss them in the paper recycling bin like your run-of-the-mill office sheet paper.

So what’s a coffee lover to do?


The interior of disposable paper cups are often lined with soft plastic or wax to prevent leaking, control extreme temperatures and increase its durability.

This creates a significant challenge when it comes to recycling as the cup needs to be stripped of its coating and broken down which requires specialised infrastructure to do so.

Another problem is the lack of receptacles dedicated to the collection of disposable cups.

This means that these cups can often end up in parks, on our car floors, in ditches, on beaches – everywhere but in a proper collection system!

They also often end up being tossed in the nearest general waste container or contaminating other recycling containers – which can often render the entire waste unrecyclable to the hauler.

The lack of market opportunities for these materials offers recycling centres little incentive to invest in the necessary machinery to recycle these disposable cups.

With this in mind, only a select few communities currently offer these services, which means businesses and individuals may not have the necessary access to dispose of their cups properly.


Before you panic, there’s no need to give up your coffee drinking ways (as if you would!) but we do need to try and acknowledge the small changes we can make to help this pressing issue.

For disposable cup recycling to become a reality, our used cups need to be collected systematically in bulk - this is where stream specific recycling bins come in.

By offering a cup recycling bin in areas where coffee is likely to be consumed - whether that’s coffee shops, fast food restaurants or offices - the likelihood of tossing used cups in any old bin is reduced.

A dedicated recycling container for disposable cups will ensure that this waste does not contaminate other recyclable streams and it will also make bulk collection easier for you too.

Managing the environmental impact of disposable paper cups will take innovation and collaboration as well as improvements to local government policies, recycling infrastructure and general public awareness.

But providing the opportunity to recycle the cup that holds your extra-large skinny cappuccino is definitely a good place to start.

Design features of the Nexus® Cup Recycling Bin
• Features 4 dedicated cup apertures
• Side pod reservoir for unwanted liquid
• Drip tray
• Personalize with company logo
• Non-marking feet
• Ideal for coffee shops and office areas

Design features of the Eco Nexus® 60 Cup Recycling Bin
• Handles on the lid and the bin body
• Hidden sack retention
• Can hold up to 40 cups
• Personalize with company logo
• Non-marking feet
• Ideal for coffee shops and office areas

For more information on our disposable cup recycling bins, please get in touch with us today!

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