Can You Recycle Coffee Cups?

This article answers the question, “can you recycle coffee cups?” and gives you some ideas on how to recycle them.

Can you recycle coffee cups?
Not all paper cups are recyclable

Many paper cups are not easily recyclable. While made from paper, they are coated in plastic. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be waterproof, and the coffee would soak through the bottom. 

The plastic coating is necessary if the cup is going to work as a cup. But it makes it impossible to recycle it next to other types of paper and cardboard. Most recycling companies don’t take coffee cups because the cups also aren’t biodegradable due to the plastic.

Ceramics are technically recyclable. They are often used for drainage systems and rock bases for driveways.

However, they will weaken other recycled products causing them to be accepted only at certain recycling places. 

If the recycling center takes concrete or brick, they may also have the ability to take ceramics. Often, you’ll need to call and ask. 

What Can I Do With Old Coffee Mugs?

There are many things you can do with old coffee mugs. If you can't find any recycling facility near you that takes coffee mugs, you can often find a new purpose for it. 

For instance, you can efficiently utilize old coffee mugs as pots for succulents. They can also be used as candles, or you can crush them yourselves and use them as a base in your garden or alongside rocks. This is often their purpose after they are recycled at facilities. 

Old coffee mugs make great paint holders. They can also be used as containers for pencils and pens. Sentimental coffee mugs can have their life elongated in this manner. 

Thrift stores sometimes take mugs. However, the mugs have to be in pretty good condition for this method to work. If your mugs aren’t broken, this can be a solid option. 

Can Mugs Go In Recycling?

Ceramic vs. stoneware coffee mugs.
Ceramic mugs can be recycled

Not typically. You often have to find a specialty facility that takes ceramics. You can’t recycle ceramics with glass or plastic products, which are usually the primary recyclable materials. 

It isn’t always worth traveling to a specialty company to recycle a single cup. However, it is often plenty worth it for a whole group of coffee mugs. 

Instead, you can recycle them in your own home – as we described above. 

Can Takeaway Coffee Cups Be Recycled?

No. Typically, any sort of paper cup cannot be recycled. To make the paper waterproof, the cup must be covered in plastic.

This plastic film makes them extremely difficult to recycle. You can’t recycle them with plastic, but you can’t recycle them with paper either. 

There is currently no technology that makes these cups easily recyclable. Therefore, they should be put into the waste container. 

The lids can often be recycled, though. Therefore, you can separate the lid and put it in the proper container. 

What Can I Do With Used Coffee Cups?

Two white paper cups on a wooden table
Plastic-coated paper cups can't be recycled

If the cups are paper, not much! As we’ve previously stated, these paper cups are covered in plastic. This film cannot be removed from the paper cup. Therefore, they have to be thrown away. 

You can’t recycle the plastic from the cup or the paper from the inner part of the cup. 

The Final Word On Can You Recycle Coffee Cups

Most coffee cups can’t be recycled. Paper, disposable cups are, well, disposable. They are made out of paper covered with a plastic film. The paper provides their structure, while the plastic makes the cup waterproof. 

Because these two materials are mixed, they can’t be taken apart. This fact makes recycling nearly impossible. 

Ceramic cups can be recycled, but only at certain facilities. This article contains more recycling tips.

Resources

What Are The Best Materials For Coffee Cups?

Why Can’t You Microwave Starbucks Cups?

Author

  • Kristin first fell in love with coffee on a trip to Brazil - where she learned that the ground coffee found on American shelves was not the end-all. Today, she loves educating other coffee-lovers on how to make the best cup of coffee, no matter what you enjoy.