With Australians knocking back an average of 50,000 takeaway coffees every 30 minutes, and one billion paper cups winding up in landfill each year, it's pretty clear that our on-the-go coffee habits need to undergo a drastic change. But no matter how many reusable cups hit the market, that throwaway culture is a hard one to shake. We've been taking tiny steps to address the problem, though; last year the City of Sydney trialled standalone bins for one-use coffee cups and, just recently, a Sydney cafe banned all disposable cups.
But the latest product to help make our caffeine addictions somewhat better for the environment is the RecycleMe cup — a new 'more recyclable' takeaway coffee cup, which is being trialled in Sydney and Melbourne this week.
This little guy is the brainchild of Australian-owned paper and packaging specialists Detpak and California-based Smart Planet Technologies, who were looking to create a disposable cup that could be easily recycled through the usual paper and cardboard recycling stream.
At present, regular coffee cups cannot be recycled like other cardboard items due to their waterproof polyethylene lining, and there is currently no facility in Australia that is able to recycle them. The RecycleMe cups differ because they have a mineral-based lining that's easier to be removed, and means up to 96 percent of the cup can be recycled.
The RecycleMe cups can't go straight into your regular recycling bin, though. As part of the trial, patrons who order takeaway coffees will have to turf their empty cups and lids into the special blue bins in-store. From there, the lining will be removed before the cups head to a regular paper recycling facility to be processed and made into new paper and cardboard products. While having to dispose of your takeaway cup at the cafe you bought it from sort of defeats the purpose of getting a disposable one in the first place, it is a step in the right direction — particularly if the cups can enter the regular recycling stream rather than simply going to landfill.
You can test the final product at Toby's Estate in Sydney and Melbourne Museum, where the RecycleMe cups will be in use until Sunday, August 20. Detpak aims to have the RecycleMe cups on the commercial market within six months.