In 2017 we consumed on average over 800 disposable coffee cups every single day University of Westminster – and that’s just counting the coffees sold on campus, not to mention those bought elsewhere and consumed at the university.

The likelihood is that very few if any of these cups were recycled, but probably ended up going to landfill, incineration, or (hopefully the minority) finding their way into massive deposits of plastic causing all sorts of damage to the natural world.

This is because disposable coffee cups, while mostly made of paper, have a layer of plastic on the inside to make them waterproof. This plastic layer is very tightly bonded to the paper and as such there are very few recycling facilities in the world who are able to separate the materials and successfully recycle them.

There is, fortunately, a solution to this problem – if you bring your own cup to any of our coffee shops on campus our baristas will happily serve your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in that and they’ll give you a 20p discount. If you buy a coffee every day that’s a saving of £1 a week, or £52 a year – nothing for someone on a student budget to turn their nose up at! You’ll be saving money and saving the resources needed to make that single-use coffee cup. You can buy a Keep Cup at our coffee shops, bring a mug from your kitchen, or any other receptacle you can think of – just bring something.

Of course sometimes you forget your cup, or maybe your bag is too small, or god forbid you lose your beloved cup on the tube. What then? We’re currently working on a pilot scheme with Bywaters, our waste contractor, to find a way to recycle our cups. You may have noticed coffee cup bins popping up around the university – well watch this space, because we’ll be announcing details of our efforts to tackle this prickly problem in the very near future.

Cormac Cleary

Cormac Cleary

Sustainable Food Assistant at University of Westminster and Aramark
Cormac Cleary

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