Coffee Pollution: What Can We Do? 



Coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world, right after water. There’s no doubt that the industry is booming, and it seems that every street you walk down has some sort of coffee shop. This is great if you’re a coffee-lover and happy to find a brand new coffee shop weekly. However, our caffeine addiction comes with a big cost. That is pollution. 

Single-use Cups

Astoundingly, around 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are thrown away each year. This comes up to 25,000 coffee cups every 5 minutes. We tend to have the idea of “it’s just one cup.” however, that one cup is fueling pollution and climate change. 

Perhaps the big coffee industries like to label their coffee as recyclable, fueling more guilt-free customers, however, that isn’t always the case. 

Although coffee-cups are made out of paper, which indeed is recyclable, they’re lined with a plastic in-order to keep the cup dry when filled with coffee. 

When these coffee cups go through the recycling process, the removal of this plastic is difficult. Additionally, only a few places are able to get this done. This means that, although your coffee-cup might say it’s recyclable, it usually lands up with all the other waste. Astoundingly, only 1% of coffee cups actually become recycled. 

This is a major factor in pollution. To think that a cup that is only used for a few minutes, takes years to break down. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and yet it still does, every day. This is why we need to find solutions. 

Multi-use Cups

There’s no need to quit coffee altogether. A great way to enjoy our daily cup of coffee and still be environmentally friendly, is using multiple-use cups. However, this responsibility is equally divided between the coffee-lovers and the coffee shops. 

Firstly, coffee drinkers need to change their habit of using single-use cups and get into the routine of carrying a reusable coffee cup or tumbler with when they’re on their way to order their favourite morning coffee. 

However, the problem shouldn’t weigh on the consumers alone. Coffee shops should also take responsibility for single-use cups and the pollution that it causes. Although some consumers are environmentally friendly, some just don’t care. 

There are a range of things a coffee shop can do in order to fuel the usage of multi-use cups. A good solution is to offer a discount to those that bring their own cups with them. Starbucks is a big industry that has tried to use discounts as a drive for change, however, only 2% of buyers used their own cups. This means that other solutions need to be put into place. 

Another way, is to stop selling coffee cups all together, which means the consumers won’t have a choice in the matter. Additionally, the coffee shop should sell reusable cups, in case their customers don’t have their own. This is a win-win situation, as it’ll drive profit as well as eliminate pollution.