Can You Recycle Coffee Cup Lids? Answered 

With a great love of coffee comes being a responsible coffee drinker. We’ve started with our recyclable cups, but can you recycle coffee cup lids? Read more.

Can you recycle coffee cup lids?
Some coffee cup lids are recyclable, and some are not

It’s encouraging to see that some of the biggest brands are now making moves to become eco-friendly. It’s a big step towards healing the environment, given that one company used to be responsible for around 6 billion disposable cup waste every year. That’s almost one cup for every one of us on the planet.

Of course, we’re not the type to get left behind, and we must do our part to become responsible coffee lovers. Some coffee cups and mugs can be recycled

Some coffee cup lids are recyclable, and some are not. Here’s a quick guide to help you out.

Knowing The Material Of Your Coffee Cup Lids

Knowing the material of your coffee cup lids
Most coffee brands use caps made from polypropylene or polystyrene #6, a petroleum-based plastic similar to styrofoam in texture

Coffee cup lids can be labeled as made from plastic. However, plastic is a general term that covers different thermoplastic materials. Most coffee brands use caps made from polypropylene or polystyrene #6, a petroleum-based plastic similar to styrofoam in texture.

By identifying the resin identification code (RIC) stamped on the lids, you can determine if the lid is recyclable.

Codes 1 And 2 (PET & rPET And HDPE & rHDPE)

These plastics are used for PET bottles, salad trays, milk bottles and jugs, and cleaning materials like bleach or shampoo. All materials that fall under these codes are recyclable.

Codes 4 And 5 (LDPE And PP)

Your usual plastic shopping bags, garbage bags, plastic straws, and microwaveable meal trays, among others, fall under these codes. Although it’s advisable to reach out to your recycling centers to double-check if they process these, these are recyclable.

Codes 3, 6, And 7 (PVC, PS, And Other)

These are non-recyclable; items such as PVC pipes, car parts, plastic cutleries, and packaging for electronics and toys fall under these codes.

Fortunately, the polypropylene coffee cup lids fall under code 5, so these can be recycled depending on the recycling centers in your area. On another note, polystyrene is under code 6 and needs to be thrown out, although some facilities have recently accepted this as well.

Playing Your Part To Recycle

Playing your part to recycle
You can ditch the plastic and go for coffee cups or tumblers made from materials such as stainless steel, ceramics, or silicone

Clean Out Your Coffee Cup Lids

As simple as rinsing your lids to remove the coffee residues will ensure that it will not contaminate other recyclable materials (especially paper).

Go For Reusable Coffee Cups Or Tumblers

You can ditch the plastic and go for coffee cups or tumblers made from materials such as stainless steel, ceramics, or silicone. They can properly insulate your hot or cold beverage, and they can even last a lifetime with proper maintenance.

Separate Your Waste Accordingly

Some coffee brands use separate materials for their coffee cups and their lids. Before you throw, check for the RIC as this will help the recycling facilities immensely. This also decreases the risk of contaminating other materials and lowers the operational costs, which helps them become more sustainable.

Upcycle Your Lids

How about showing your creative side by upcycling your coffee cup lids? If you’re a knitter, you can use these to keep your yarn from tangling by cutting the lid in the middle and inserting the yarn there. You can also use it as a DIY sink stopper or a jewelry or sewing materials container. 

The Next Steps To Recycling

Thankfully, big coffee brands are taking steps to become eco-friendly. Starbucks is planning to shift to reusable packaging and launch programs such as FoodShare, which brings eligible unsold food to non-profit organizations across the United States. The NextGen Cup Challenge encourages everyone to come up with new designs and materials for coffee cups.

Dunkin’ Donuts has recently switched from foam cups to double-walled paper cups certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard, and their new lids have shifted to recyclable #5 polypropylene. The same materials have been used for their new K-Cup pods.

You might be interested in our guides on can coffee canisters can be recycled or how to dispose of your coffee grounds.

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