Eco-friendly alternatives to disposable coffee cups

Last updated: 15 March 2023

Facts about disposable coffee cups

Australians throw out 2.7 million single-use or disposable coffee cups every single day. This adds up to 1 billion coffee cups thrown out every year.

It’s no surprise then that disposable coffee cups are a major contributor to litter on our streets and in our waterways.

How to avoid using a disposable coffee cup

There are plenty of great alternatives to using disposable coffee cups. Many cafes are happy for customers to bring their own – and many will even offer a small discount. Bringing your own cup could save you up to 50 cents on your next cup.

Switch up your disposable cup for a reusable cup

If you don’t really need it, avoid it.

If everyone used their own reusable coffee cup we wouldn’t have a problem. There are now countless types and styles of reusable cups to suit your tastes. These include varieties of plastic, glass, and ceramic in just about any colour combination. If you prefer, take a cup or mug from your kitchen cupboard at home.

If you have time, you can take a few minutes and enjoy a coffee to stay instead.

Choose a responsible cafe and save

Many cafes will offer a discount if you take your own reusable coffee cup, so you can save while getting your coffee fix. Find a Responsible Cafe near you.

Keep a bunch of reusable cups in the office

Making reusable cups easily accessible in your workplace can prevent thousands of disposable cups from going to landfill every year.

Consider providing reusable cups in different parts of your workplace, such as the kitchen or at reception, so there are always cups available on the way out. Doing your bit for the environment also makes a good impression with your guests.

Are disposable coffee cups recyclable?

Standard disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled through the standard paper recycling process because they have a plastic liner.

Even 'compostable' cups are rarely composted, because Australia's existing composting facilities can’t yet process them effectively. It can also be hard to transport enough of the right cups to the right place for composting.

This means disposable coffee cups are a huge burden on our waste management services and our environment, adding to landfill and increasing unnecessary and harmful transport emissions.

Avoiding disposable cups is the most sustainable way to drink coffee. But if you get stuck without your reusable cup, and don’t have time to sit down for a coffee, it is possible to recycle your disposable coffee cup.

There are 238 participating 7-Eleven stores across Victoria where you can recycle your used coffee cups. Find a disposable coffee cup recycling point near you.

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