The U.K.’s Coffee Addiction Leaves Them Caffeinated, Leaves Next Generation with a Waste Legacy 

Scientists warn that disposable coffee cups from their favorite coffee shops could take as long as 30 years to break down…increasing the burden for waste disposal. According to Lisa O’Carroll of The Guardian, campaigners are calling for an increase of tax for the U.K.’s nearly 5 billion paper and plastic take-away cups they produce a year. While many believe these cups can be recycled, they are wrong. While most people in the U.K. toss the cups in the green paper recycling bins, the recycling facilities cannot remove the plastic lining which coffee cups must have to insulate the coffee; therefore, the cups are wasted. Chris Cheeseman, a professor of materials resources engineering at Imperial College London, says “the polyethylene is resistant to degradation and could take around 30 years to break down. Even then we don’t know for sure, because nobody has looked at the cup specifically,” added Cheeseman. The market is ripe for a truly biodegradable or recyclable option. Efforts are being taken by major coffee companies to trial eco-friendly cups as well as to provide incentives for customers to return their used cups for a rebate.