You can be forgiven for thinking that the single use take-away cups you get your coffee in are recyclable.
After all, they’re made of paper and cardboard, so they must be recyclable, right?
Wrong. The majority of the single use cups used by cafes have a polyethylene lining in them that stops the liquid seeping through the cardboard.
The polyethylene renders the cups unrecyclable in Australia. Other countries do have the infrastructure to recycle such cups, but it is a costly process, and Australia hasn’t taken it up.
So although many of us throw the cups into the recycling bin, they will always end up in a landfill.
Employees at the Mudgee branch of Eco Logical Australia are taking a stand against the waste, even putting a sign up on their front desk that reads – “No more ELA. These are non-recyclable. Fines apply”.
The fine system is simple – if an employee uses a take-away cup, they have to sit in the craft corner.
“I found a video on Youtube on how to transform used coffee cups into weaved baskets with weeds, so – in their own time – they have to create a basket,” consultant support officer Kristy Cresham said.
The environmental movement was sparked by ABC TV documentary ‘War on Waste’ – which busted the myth that take-away coffee cups are recyclable.
And that includes so-called bio cups.
“They are made of compostable material, but unless you collect them and take them to a composting facility, they’re going to end up in landfill,” explained Brendan Lee from Closed Loop Recycling, on episode three.
“It doesn’t matter which bin it goes in, it ends up in a landfill,” Mr Lee said.
The movement isn’t isolated to one workplace, with cafes also jumping on-board, according to Eco Logical Australia Mudgee region manager, Rachel Murray; “The cafes downstairs [Market Street] are looking at starting an initiative to encourage customers to use fewer coffee cups.”