Have you had your coffee fix today yet? Did you have a reusable coffee cup with you?

Our recent research highlights the sheer volume of disposable coffee cups used in the UK, giving us all a reminder of the importance of recycling single-use coffee cups.

We are a nation of coffee drinkers, drinking 95 million cups of coffee a day. There’s a coffee shop on every corner and in every shopping centre, and even an increasing number of coffee drive-throughs for our commute. As a nation, we’re using 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups every year, and:

  • Only approximately 1% of these coffee cups are recycled, mostly due to the mixture of plastic and paper designed to make them heat and leakproof.
  • This means there are still over 2 billion coffee cups being sent to landfill or incineration each year.

Impressive, right? But there's more:

  • The number of coffee cups used each year in the UK equates to 16,777 miles of coffee cups stacked inside each other – that’s more than two-thirds of the earth’s circumference.
  • Making this amount of coffee cups produces 613 million lbs of CO2 emissions and uses enough petroleum to fill around 286,167 small cars.
  • By recycling these coffee cups, we could save 6 football fields’ worth of trees.
  • These cups could be recycled into 250 million A5 notebooks.
  • By either recycling coffee cups via companies such as First Mile or investing in a reusable cup, you can easily do your part in helping the planet.

As more and more of us begin to understand the importance of looking after our planet, it’s time for us to make ethical choices around all our purchases and what we do with objects when we’ve finished with them, including coffee cups.

First Mile founder and CEO, Bruce Bratley comments: “The good news is that paper cup recycling rates have increased from an estimated 1 in every 400 to 1 in every 25 in just two years. This has been achieved by the hard work of many consumers and companies that are committed to boosting coffee cup recycling, but we can all do more. Recycling coffee cups not only means that they don’t end up in landfill sites, but also that new and useful products can be created. For example, First Mile shreds the coffee cups we collect before paper and plastic are separated. They are then recycled into new copier paper, recycled notebooks and even shopping bags at many a well-known high street store.”

It's easy to make a difference. Start recycling your coffee cups today and enjoy a morning coffee without guilt.

(Does your company or shop uses compostable cups? These can also be recycled!)