It was quite a shock for me as a true coffee lover. The eco-friendly compostable disposable coffee cups were not composted at all (!).

How come?

So far, I have discovered three issues:

  1. People don’t think the cups are compostable;
    Or they are not aware of the difference.
  2. People don’t clean their cups;
    The dirty cups can’t be recycled. The recycling plants need to have clean cups for them to be recycled.
  3. Composting or recycling of these cups can’t be done everywhere;
    Only the right recycling plants can to the job. A survey conducted by The Packaging Forum last year, found that only 11 commercial composting sites in New Zealand accept compostable coffee cups (source: article)

When compostable cups disintegrate in landfill, they create methane, a greenhouse gas.
So you think you’re doing good, but in fact making it worse!

So what to do?

  1. Check your local Council whether the recycling plant can handle the compostable coffee cups or not
    This is what Christchurch City Council says, “All takeaway cups and lids must be disposed of in the red wheelie bin, which goes to landfill regardless of the marketing material printed on the outside of the cups”. Oops!
  2. Buy reusable coffee cups from glass, bamboo or recycable materials
    Click on the suppliers below for some great designs:

    Karma Kup (left) and CuppaCoffeeCup (right)

    Karma Kup (left) and CuppaCoffeeCup (right)

    EcoWarehouse, online shop for sustainable and environment friendly eco-products
    Reuseful, online shop for reusable and eco-friendly products
    CuppaCoffeeCup, the brand that Reuseful is selling; striking customised cups here;
    IdealCup, Motueka based company going global; check out their CupCyclingTM  too;
    Karma Kup, customised for your branding by 5Star Promotions;
    Project Jonah, a charity helping to protect marine mammals;
    SoL Cups, Australian owned company; the cups are awesome for your business branding too;
    KeepCup, Australian owned company inspiring reuse since 2009;
    EcoffeeCup. Looking great but shipped to New Zealand and Australia. 

  3. Buy at cafes that banned disposable coffee cups or give you a BYO discount.
    More and more conscious cafe owners offer mugs or encourage you with discounts to bring your own reusable coffee cup. Read the stories:


Need help to find the place to be? Check out this ‘Use Your Own Cup’ cafe guide‘.


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> Do you buy compostable coffee cups? Do you bring your own reusable coffee cup? A great cafe you’d like to mention?