Plastic Cup Waste: Coffee-To-Go Could Be Significantly More Expensive

On average, every German uses 34 disposable cups for coffee or tea on the go every year. That’s an incredible amount of garbage. Now the Federal Environment Agency wants to ask manufacturers and coffee drinkers to pay.

A quick cappuccino on the go is still popular – even if many people are now aware that it’s not exactly ecological.

Around 2.5 billion paper cups are filled with coffee, tea or cocoa every year. And only in Germany. Fifteen minutes later, the cups end up in the nearest bin, along with 1.3 billion plastic lids.

The plastic-coated cups ensure that waste bins overflow and line paths, streets and parks. The classic “coffee-to-go” cups alone fill eight million typical city trash cans per year, according to a current study by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has now presented. The pure plastic cups, which are available in vending machines, for example, increase the mountain of rubbish even further.

Hot drinks from reusable cups should become cheaper

The SPD politician would like to ask the cup manufacturers to pay up and thus stem the flood of waste. In the future, each disposable cup could become 20 cents more expensive, and plastic lids ten cents more expensive. The money could end up in a special “littering fund” to finance the removal of the rubbish lying around. In addition, retailers should sell hot drinks from reusable cups cheaper than those from disposable cups.

The Environment Minister also announced a ban on expanded polystyrene cups. Styrofoam cups are particularly difficult to recycle. The legal basis for the ban is the EU’s new single-use plastic regulation.

According to the UBA study, the measures could reduce the consumption of disposable beverage cups by 50 percent within three years.

So far, cups can only be recycled in theory

The classic coffee-to-go cups are made of paper and a plastic layer. If they end up in the regular garbage, waste management companies cannot recycle them. Svenja Schulze can therefore also imagine a deposit system for disposable cups.

A compulsory 25-cent deposit is conceivable to prevent consumers from throwing away the cups carelessly. If the cups were collected separately, they could be recycled by waste companies.

Alternative to disposable cups

Many cafés and bakery branches already fill cups you have brought with you and sometimes even reduce the price. Another option is reusable cups, which consumers receive against a deposit and can either return to the same shop or to a cooperating shop.

According to the Federal Environment Agency, reusable cups only make ecological sense if they are used at least ten times, preferably 25 times. This week, the startup “FairCup” was the first company to receive the Blue Angel for its reusable cup system.

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