Trash Talk: Roasting the Coffee

It’s a breezy autumn afternoon, and you decide that you’d like to buy some coffee before heading home. Over by your local Starbucks, you order a hot seasonal pumpkin spice latte to go with extra whipped cream on top. The barista hands over your freshly prepared drink in a disposable paper coffee cup with a lid. On your way home, you finish your drink and decide to throw the cup into the recycling bin because you’ve been feeling rather eco-friendly lately. Little do you know, however, that the seemingly harmless paper cup you’ve just tossed has already paid its fair share in polluting our environment. It will end up rotting in a landfill with millions of other cups that have gone through the same journey.

A cup of coffee on a sidewalk bench
The production & transportation process of a paper coffee cup

Traveling from rainforests to factories to wholesalers to coffee shops, a LOT of energy is put into the production and transportation of paper coffee cups.

Picture via The Energy Collective

Each and every paper coffee cup that reaches your hands is responsible for 0.24 pounds of CO2 emissions. Despite popular belief, most coffee cups cannot be recycled, because they’re lined with polyethylene, a plastic material that’s only accepted in few specialized recycling centers — therefore it mostly just ends up in the landfill.

Polyethylene pellets (pictured left) / A white paper cup (pictured right)
The composition & decomposition of a paper cup (via CNN)

In a War On Waste campaign in Melbourne, Australia, a bus filled with disposable coffee cups was driven around the city to demonstrate the volume of coffee waste that’s sent to landfills every half hour.

Infographic via Greenerideal

Every year in America, roughly 50 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away. The enormous amount of trash caused by such a short-used product is truly absurd.

A reusable coffee mug

Switching over to reusable mugs instead of single-use disposables will help reduce the amount of waste created. Plus, some shops even offer discounts for bringing your own cup!

Image via PBS
Image via Hugh’s War On Waste

How much coffee do we need to wake up? Wake up and smell the waste.

Images via:
The Energy Collective
Greene Ideal
Hugh’s War On Waste