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How to recycle coffee cups

It’s no secret that we as Australians love our coffee; we drink a tonne of it. In fact, 1.8 billion hot drink cups are being used every single year.

What can’t you recycle coffee cups in kerbside recycling?

Coffee cups aren’t recyclable through kerbside recycling in Australia. This is for a few reasons such as the materials that are used to make the coffee cup waterproof, the weight and the shape.

If we put them in our kerbside recycling bins, they will be seen as a contaminant and therefore the rest of the recycling items in the bin may not be recycled.


yellow kerbside recycling bin

Coffee cups cannot be recycled in kerbside recycling bins.


Simply Cups was created to specifically tackle this problem. Recognising the need for a solution, Closed Loop approached the problem head on – and developed Simply Cups, a dedicated paper cup recycling program.

How to recycle coffee cups

As much as we’d like to eliminate single use cups completely (use reusable cups where possible!), there are many instances where reusables are not being used. At times you might forget to bring your reusable cup, and you’ll opt for a paper one.

If you find yourself with a takeaway coffee cup, you can recycle them through any of our Simply Cups collection locations. Simply Cups collects all paper cups including:

  • Coffee cups

  • Fast food chain soft drink/milkshake paper cups

  • 7-Eleven Slurpee cups

  • Compostable cups


simply cups collection unit

Image: Paper cup collected with Simply Cups


Once collected, Simply Cups transforms paper cups into new products – such as lightweight concrete, sustainable building material and roads.

Simply Cups work with a range of technology partners to reuse paper cups, see our range of recycled products here.

Should I use a compostable cup instead?

There are so many ‘sustainable’ coffee cups available in the market now. Labels like ‘compostable’ coffee cups claim to be more sustainable, however it’s important to note that they may not be the most sustainable option for you.

Depending on what type of ‘compostable’ the cup is (whether it’s ‘home’ or ‘commercially’ compostable) there still needs to be conditions like specific temperatures and airflow for the cup to break down properly.


Home compostable paper cups can be composted in home composting environments such as worm farm.


Commercial compostable paper cups are difficult to compost in Australia. The problem is in Australia today, there’s very few commercial composting facilities that accept paper cups, and very few are accessible to the general public.

Reducing your impact


Reusable coffee cups are best

If you really want to minimise waste, bring a reusable cup; it really is the most sustainable option.

rCUPs


Collect coffee cups and other paper

You can start collecting paper and take them to one of the many Simply Cups public collection points. Find your closest participating outlet here.

stack of coffee cups


Keep reusable coffee cups in the office.

Having reusable coffee cups in the office (or even ceramic mugs) can serve as a great reminder to bring your own reusable coffee cup for your morning (or afternoon) coffee run!

mugs in cupboard


Set up a paper cup recycling station!

Simply Cups work with businesses to collect paper cups from their office, venue or event. Contact us today to recycle paper cups for your business.

simply cups collection tube in office

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