Plastic waste – why non-reusable cups are destroying the planet

Our guest contributor this month is Amelia Womack, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales since September 2014, with a short thought piece.

To me it’s clear that people simply want the easiest and cheapest option to be the greenest option. As more information is presented to the public then I think many people are shocked at how their daily habits are destroying the planet.

Throw away coffee cups are just one example of that. You only need to look into a recycling bin to see the piles of coffee cups piling up where people want to be able to recycle, but don’t realise that their coffee cups are not just paper.

Every single day in the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups – that’s 2.5 billion every year. Less than 1% of these are recycled each year, the rest end up in landfill or incineration, exacerbating our waste problem.

Recycling these cups is incredibly complicated. The inner lining of the cup contains a plastic layer that is bonded to the paper helping make them both heat and leak proof, but impossible to recycle by standard recycling companies. Currently across the whole of the UK there are just three companies that are able to recycle them across the UK.

As a result of the incredible series Blue Plant II by David Attenborough, more people than ever understand what plastic in our environment genuinely means for our planet. The plastic from our cups takes hundreds of years to break down – our ancestors left us castles and monuments, what we leave behind is plastic debris.

The gradual breakdown of plastics creates micro-plastic that enter our ecosystems as a result of organisms ingesting them. These microplastics are toxic, and few will forget the effect they had on dolphin calves dying as a result of ingesting their mothers contaminated milk.

There is no magic solution to this, constant production of a product, even those that claim to be environmentally friendly will always have an ecological impact, whether that’s from cutting down trees or the energy intensity of their production meaning they use more carbon.

One small action you can take is to invest in non-disposable products and challenge destructive plastic use.

ABOUT GoReusable

Launched in 2018, GoReusable was inspired by the pressing need to reduce the world’s dependency on single-use cups – an estimated 500 billion disposable cups are made and discarded globally each year.

Now your coffee will just taste all that better with a GoReusable.org cup! With our latest Plant One Tree Cups and our partnership with the National Forest Foundation not only are our cup helping to reduce the world’s dependency on single-use they also plant a tree. One cup purchased = One tree planted.

They are available for consumers to purchase through Amazon or for organisations to buy in bulk, either wholesale or branded.