Approximately 55 million cups of coffee are consumed in Britain daily, and the many coffee shops popping up in our local area is just adding to that statistic. In Richmond, it seems as if there are more food shops than anything else, with the majority of those being coffee stores. And whether you’re buying yourself a cup of Joe or a cinnamon chai latte, the chances are you’ll be drinking it out of a take away cup.

On a recent trip to a local coffee shop, I discovered that these cups aren’t as recyclable as I thought. In fact, the plastic waterproof lining on the inside of the cups is the reason why we can’t recycle them at all.  When asking around, I found that some people were aware of this fact, but many seemed as oblivious as I was, with one person saying: ‘I’d assume the vast majority of them [the cups] are recyclable’. Unfortunately, with the majority of the population agreeing with this, a large portion of the 2.5billion coffee cups disposed of a day are recycled. This is an issue, because if these cups aren’t recyclable, putting them with your recycling may contaminate an entire load, resulting in it being sent to landfill, not what our conscientious recyclers had in mind!

One in 400 coffee cups are actually recyclable, but with such small numbers of them being distributed, the chances that it will be used nationally in the near future are virtually non-existent. So what can we do to fix this dilemma? One possible solution that has been catching on in recent years is the reusable coffee cup. Not only does it reduce the harm done to the environment by stopping people recycling non-recyclable coffee cups, it also benefits the customer, as they have the satisfaction of knowing that buying one of these is beneficial to the world around them. The coffee shops could also benefit from this change, as if people use reusable cups then retailers would keep the price the same (a portion of which is allocated for the price of the disposable cup), meaning the retailers would end up making more money.

To conclude, there are many things you as a citizen can do to improve the world around you, and disposing of your coffee cups/ buying reusable ones is a good place to start.