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New Zealand may be perceived as clean and green by the rest of the world, but we have a significant and growing problem. As a country we guzzle our way through approximately 295 million cups of takeaway coffee a year.


But coffee cups are recyclable, I hear you say. Unfortunately not; they’re treated with something called polyacetylene (PE), which makes them coffee-proof, but extremely difficult to recycle. To be recycled the PE lining needs to be separated from the cardboard, which is extremely complex, and not many recycling plants have this capability meaning most cups go to landfill. This is an issue that is set to continue unless we change our habits.


How can we fix it? By changing to a cup that is properly recyclable, or by investing in new specialized facilities.


Alternatively you could buy your own reusable cup, however, the energy and resources to manufacture these may outweigh the benefits. It has been said that in order to gain an environmental benefit over a takeaway cup you must reuse your cup until it reaches the end of its life, which could be between 1000-3000 washes. Are you ready to commit to using a single reusable cup for the next 8 years?


Something to be discussed at the water cooler…what type of cups does that have?


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