Costa Coffee Nails Coffee Cup Recycling and Reuse

coffee cup recycling

That first morning sip of almost-too-hot-to-drink-but-I-need-it-now coffee is pure heaven. As the caffeine slowly seeps into your bloodstream, your brain cells awaken, the world comes into focus and you’re just that little bit more ready to face the day ahead.

But this blissful morning routine may feel somewhat of a guilty pleasure if the coffee is sipped from a disposable takeaway cup.

In the UK we throw away 8 million coffee cups every day. Many cups are made from recycled and recyclable materials but very few are actually recycled themselves. Discarding millions of cups a day is a frightening statistic and poses a real conundrum: clearly we’re not all going to give up coffee (or at least I’m not!) so what’s the solution?

Recycle Any Takeaway Coffee Cup

Costa Coffee believe the solution is in their nationwide coffee cup recycling scheme. You can take any disposable coffee cup to Costa, even if it’s from one of their competitors, and they’ll guarantee that the cup gets recycled.

The scheme is available in over 2000 Costa stores across the UK and follows a trial of 45 stores that took place in London and Manchester in 2016.

To ensure that the coffee cups do get recycled, Costa have partnered with Veolia who will recycle the cups at specialist waste management facilities.

Costa are hoping that the scheme will recycle over 30 million takeaway coffee cups every year. This is a long way from the 3 billion cups we discard annually but is certainly a step in the right direction.

Screenshot 2017-02-10 18.03.47

Reward For Using A Reusable Coffee Cup

Recycling takeaway coffee cups is a positive move but it is really just a bandaid for a deeper problem: the overuse of disposable cups.

It is all too common to be served coffee in a takeaway cup even when the coffee is not being taken away, but enjoyed in the coffee shop itself.

Costa have a solution for this too. Bring your own reusable coffee cup, of a suitable size and with a secure lid, and Costa will give you 25p off any of their handcrafted hot or cold drinks.

It might sound like a pain to have to carry your own reusable cup everywhere you go. But we’ve got used to carrying plastic bags so perhaps it won’t be such a difficult adjustment to make. With so many interesting cups becoming available there’s really no excuse not to bring your own.

I picked up a Pokito as part of their Kickstarter campaign and it’s brilliant: it has no problem handling hot drinks and takes up barely any space in my handbag. Genius.

Perhaps an even better way to reduce the issue of takeaway cups would be to penalise those who use them. Why not add an additional 25p to each coffee served in a takeaway cup. Would that make a difference? I suspect it would. We very quickly changed our habits when we had to pay for plastic bags, no doubt the same would apply if we had to pay for the convenience of using a takeaway cup.

Oh, and if you drink tea instead of coffee, don’t worry, all of the above applies and you can also enjoy your favourite herbal blend or breakfast tea in guilt-free peace.


Grab our PDF guide with 104 ways to reduce your plastic at home.

You’ll find tons of tips for refusing, reducing, swapping, recycling, replacing and SO much more!