Reducing Paper Cup Waste – Make Reusable Hot Beverage Mugs Cool Again
“Canadians use 1.6 billion disposable hot beverage cups each year.”
– Environment Canada
Yes, you read dd cup
correctly: Canadians use more than 1.6 billion paper and polystyrene cups every year. That is the equivalent of half a million trees. Yikes! And all those cups – after being used once – have to end up somewhere.
And where the vast majority of those cups ARE ending up is the landfill.
According to Alive website, 114.5 million kilograms of paper cup waste-the equivalent of 22,900 elephants-is dumped into Canadian landfills each year.
In Toronto alone, 1 million paper cups are thrown away every day.
In the U.S., an estimated 25 billion paper coffee cups are used annually.
What it takes to produce a disposable hot beverage paper cup
To produce those 25 billion paper coffee cups in the States every year, an estimated 9.4 million trees have to be cut down, 7 trillion BTUs of energy are needed, and 21.6 billion litres of water are required.
As for Canada? 1.6 billion disposable paper coffee required 650,000 trees to be cut and 400 million gallons of water.
Plus, according to a study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for the Environmental Innovation (April 2000), each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions (Carry Your Cup website).
In other words, the production of disposable cups is very resource-intensive. It takes a lot of wood, a lot of water, and a lot of energy to put that cup of java in your hand… in a cup that is only going to be used once.
It makes much more sense to purchase a reusable coffee mug and use it over and over again. The only way to reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups we send to landfills is stop using them in the first place. Simple, yes. But apparently not easy.
Tim Hortons and Starbucks have been somewhat proactive in addressing the problem by offering discounts to those who use their own cups, as well as introducing recycling programs. However, a recent CBC Investigates article (“Tim Hortons, Starbucks recycling claims may be garbage,” Oct 30, 2015) revealed the actual destination of cups placed in the recycled containers… and let’s just say it wasn’t the recycling plant.
Disposable cups are difficult to recycle