Yesterday was National Frappe Day and it got us thinking about the waste generated by the coffee-to-go industry. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot, so grab a cup of your favorite brew and let’s talk about café recycling.

There’s a huge push to recycle disposable cups and accessories and we’re happy to see that. The world uses 16 billion disposable coffee cups each year!

Not all coffee cups are recyclable, but some are and this changes as more supply producers are finding ways to decrease our impact on the world, so continue to stay updated on best practices for disposal.

Are plastic frappe cups recyclable?

Yes, depending on the number you find on the bottom of the cup and if your local recycling company accepts this kind of plastic. Do your research to make sure you know what kind of plastics are recycled in your area. Recycling Works, which processes the recyclables collected by Borden – your curbside service – accepts #1-7.

Some newer types of plastic cups are labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable.” This is a little bit of a misleading statement, so be careful how you dispose of them.  An industrial composting facility will be able to break these cups down using the right amount of moisture and very high heat – much more than the average homeowner or farmer’s compost pile can manage. Ask about where the compost goes next so you can make the right choice for disposal.

Plastic Recycling Codes

What about plastic lids?

Check the number on the frappe cup lid to see if it is recyclable. This will probably be similar to the cup itself. Borden Waste-Away accepts all numbers of plastic. 

Are straws recyclable?

Straws made from plastic are often not recyclable. It has been a hot issue in the news recently, as straws make up a large volume of waste plastics found in waterways. Since straws generally cannot be recycled, consider whether you really need one before you accept a straw. Some people require straws due to medical issues or cold sensitivity, but many of us have the option to reduce our impact on the environment by avoiding straws.

Let’s take a moment to dive into disposable cups for hot coffee. They’re made from different materials and that means we have different rules to follow for disposal.

To Go Cup

Are disposable coffee cups recyclable?

Not really. Simple paper coffee cups possibly can be recycled, but many are not recyclable due to the waxed liner. Lined juice and milk cartons are recyclable and should go in your bin, but the liner for coffee cups is different. This type of liner is meant to make the cup leakproof and withstand the heat of your hot beverage. This liner makes it difficult to recycle.

The good news?

Many disposable cups are made with recycled materials. We can’t recycle them due to the coffee contamination and the highly specialized facilities required to handle the liner, but using cups made from recycled materials does reduce your overall environmental impact. Keep these out of recycling bins unless you’re sure your local facility can process them.

Can you recycle Styrofoam cups?

No. The materials in Styrofoam combined with the coffee contamination and the fact that there is very little desire for recycled polystyrene makes it extremely difficult to recycle. This may change as consumer demands change recycling methods and practices.

For now, do not put foam cups into your recycling bin. If you’re looking to reduce your impact, avoid foam cups and food containers as much as possible.

What about lids?

You can recycle coffee cup lids depending on the plastic number and if your local recycling company accepts that kind of plastic.

Coffee Stirrers

Can you recycle coffee stirrers?

Wooden or bamboo stirrers can be recycled or composted. Plastic coffee stirrers cannot be recycled. If you’re already using a utensil for a meal with your coffee, consider using it to stir your drink instead of reaching for a stirrer.

Are coffee sleeves recyclable?

Yes! You can recycle or compost cardboard coffee sleeves when you’re done with them.

The most environmentally-friendly solution is to make your favorite coffee drink at home and with a reusable mug or travel cup. If you really want café coffee, choose a shop that has reusable mugs or will serve your coffee in your own to-go cup. If your favorite café doesn’t currently use sustainable products and mugs, ask them to! Great strides are made in recycling when the consumer demands it.

If you have any questions, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help: 877-924-4748.