Recycling coffee cups – why is it difficult ?

An article in the site HuffPost titled “Why can’t coffee cups be recycled” describes the challenges associated with coffee cups that have a polyethylene lining that is difficult to recycle. In addition, lined coffee cups if mixed with other cups without lining, contaminate the entire lot, thus sending more material to the landfill. Given the desire of retailers to ensure the coffee stays hot, what solutions would you suggest to improve coordination and increase recycling? Should cups have a separate insert that customers could remove to enable the paper cup to be recycled ? Or should we give up on coffee cup recycling and be satisfied with recycling the sleeve of the cup ?

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57 Responses to Recycling coffee cups – why is it difficult ?

  1. Vidhya Iyer says:

    How about Borrow-a-cup started by Starbucks in partnership with Avery Dennison. Each cup is tracked to make sure it is cleaned and sanitized and the cup is reused no need to recycle.

    • Amanda Tronchin says:

      The trade-off between convenience and environmental safety is one that many industries struggle with, and the single-serve coffee cup is not different. As the article mentions, the producers of these cups try to create an “eco-friendly” product. They still need to accomplish the ultimate goal of keeping the beverage hot for as long as possible. One must acknowledge that the single-serve coffee cup has come a long way from Styrofoam cups to biodegradable, compostable, degradable, post-consumer recycled content, and recyclable. Each cup is constructed slightly differently, so when disposed of, it is better for the planet. As these cups continue to develop, recyclers must have the proper equipment, identification methods, and recycling processes. As the cup manufacturers are doing their part to create the cups, and restaurants are using them, customers are disposing of them in the correct receptacle. It is the recyclers that need to recycle them properly.

  2. Chia-Yen Lu says:

    Design a recycling system in the chained coffee shops to encourage customers to recycle the cup, for example, the customer could get a 5% discount, if he/she brings the old clean coffee cup from the last purchase. This way, the coffee shops could increase the recycling rate. After all the old coffee cups are collected into the warehouse of the coffee shop company, the coffee cup recycling company could collect the coffee cups to proceed to the next steps. Moreover, it is also crucial to re-design the coffee cup, to avoid having the composite items in the recycling system. The plastic lining inside coffee cups makes it inefficient and hard to transform the used coffee cups into something useful. Therefore, the separate insert might be one of the possible solutions.

  3. Ying-Hsuen Tsai says:

    There’s no easy answer when it comes to recycling. For retailers, what they need are low-cost cups which at the same time ensure the coffee stays hot. For consumers, most of the time, just want to use a convenient way to enjoy the coffee. Of course, some retailers and consumers who have environmental awareness are willing to sacrifice their profits and time to do something about these non-recyclable cups. They offer incentives for customers who bring their own reusable cups or offer reusable cups for finning in. Some consumers voluntarily use their own way to avoid using one-time coffee cups. However, for most people, these environmental-friendly behaviors don’t happen naturally. In real life, there’s no strong incentive for retailers and consumers to coordinate for the greater good. Even they can coordinate, the efforts will not improve the retailer’s short-term profits or consumers’ convenience. Therefore, the government should step out to do the coordination job for the whole society’s long-term benefits when dealing with this kind of externality problem. Government can punish the retailers who don’t consider environmental problems, for example, increasing the tax of using one-time coffee cups. The extra cost might be borne by the retailers or consumers. Then the retailers and consumers will have the incentive to coordinate with each other to reduce the extra cost by making efforts to recycle the coffee cups or reduce the usage of one-time coffee cups.

  4. Calei Kelly says:

    I think that one potential solution is reusable cups. Starbucks, pre-COVID at least, would let you bring your own reusable cup, and gave you a $0.10 discount for doing so. I don’t think this discount was big enough for customers to reliably do this, but I think it is a promising idea that could significantly reduce waste. Additionally, reusable thermos and tumblers can be even more effective at keeping drinks at their desired temperature for longer, which could also help incentivize the customer. I think other coffee shops could implement this, and even sell their own branded reusable cups in doing this. I think that a separate insert could be an effective method if easy enough to engineer, however, I am not sure if customers would take the time to take apart their cup in order to recycle it. Making the lid and sleeve recyclable could be a strategy, which would reduce some waste, but again I’m not sure how much customers would accurately follow through on recycling. If possible, finding a material that helps keep drinks hot, and that is recyclable, would be the main way to get customers to recycle their cups, as then it is just as easy as throwing away. However, customers are starting to care more and more about the environmental impacts of the brands they use, and any attempt to recycle more of the cup would likely be well-received.

  5. Yijia Chen says:

    Recycling retail cups is not an easy task, because it involves the interests of many parties and the complexity of recycling. I suggest that Starbucks can continue to advocate a program that can save 0.1 USD per cup by using its own cups of coffee, and it can even increase to 0.2-0.3 USD per cup if the profit margin allows. If the long-term result of such a proposal is a decline in profitability, Starbucks can negotiate revenue share contracts with the recycling company and the cup production company so that all parties can achieve their goals.
    It is also a way to insert a part in the cup so that it can hold the coffee and can be easily taken out after use. However, there are many aspects to consider before deciding whether to use this. The first is whether the material of this product is environmentally friendly, the second is whether the product has economic significance, and the third is whether the input-output ratio of this product will meet the company’s requirements.

  6. Sara Fortman says:

    It is hard to force people to change their habits, especially when it comes to convenience. I think a possible solution would be to have customers provide their own cups. Starbucks and many other coffee chains and shops sell reusable cups and thermoses/tumblers. If the establishment enforces a rule, where the customer has to provide their own coffee cup, it might agitate the customer at first and force them to purchase a reusable cup, but that frustration will remind them to bring that cup back the next time they want to get coffee. Reusable cups help the environment, yet many people purchase them for the trendy designs as well. These coffee establishments could also provide an incentive for a discount on your purchase when the customer brings their own reusable cup. Today’s tumblers are also designed to keep cold drinks cooler for a longer period of time, same with hot drinks keeping them warm longer.

    I think a separate insert on paper cups to be recycled would be very convenient, but I do not believe enough coffee drinkers would properly separate and dispose the cup pieces properly. I do not think we should give up on coffee cup recycling. People are becoming more environmentally conscious, and maybe if they are informed that coffee cups cannot be properly recycled because the polyethylene lining, then they will be more prompted to use reusable cups instead. Also, maybe there is a different plastic out there that could be used instead of polyethylene that will allow users to recycle coffee cups.

  7. Sruthi Madadi says:

    From the customer’s perspective, it’s the convenience, ease of carrying, and whether the temperature of the coffee is maintained. And for a retailer it’s always the cost, they want to reduce the cost spent on the cups. But I think it’s now time to step back and look at the impact of these cups on the environment. Most of the customers are still under the presumption that these cups could be recycled, and the good part is consumers are now becoming environmentally conscious. Creating awareness will work wonders. So, the First step should be educating the consumers, from the retailer’s side they could place billboards inside the store and give some facts on what is the impact of the cup they purchased on the environment.
    The retailers should encourage the consumers to get their own cups, big retailers like Starbuck could introduce a program where a cup could be borrowed and returned at any of their stores, to encourage customers they might incentivize them with some coupons or promo codes for next purchase.
    The retailers could coordinate with NGOs by sponsoring their awareness programs. In the long run, retailers should encourage creative minds by funding innovative ideas on designing and creating eco-friendly coffee cups and the organizations should invest in research facilities to find a recyclable substitute to polyethylene. Having a separate insert with the paper cup that could be removable is also a good idea.

  8. Ting Lin says:

    Convenience is a key factor in the success of coffee cup recycling. Often times when I am out on the street, I find it hard to look for a trash can, let alone a recycle bin. If it were a plastic bottle, I could just simply toss it in my backpack and wait till I see a trash can. However, I would not leave a coffee cup in my bag even if it is completely empty and dry. Would I go an extra step to remove the insert when I finally find a recycle bin? Absolutely not! I will get rid of it immediately to free my hands! Since there is a large consumption of coffee and usage of coffee cups, we should maximize the recyclable materials and not just be satisfied with the sleeve. Thermo cups, on the other hand, meet the needs of coffee shops to keep their product warm while being reusable. Retailers may implement substantial discount programs when customers bring their own thermo cups. One might argue that it takes away the convenience of having one-time-use paper cups. Retailers can also design their own coffee thermo cups, and implement a different discount program that allows customers to bring back dirty ones, retailers should be responsible for washing and sanitizing cups for new customers to use.

  9. Zachary McClurg says:

    There are two problems that need to be solved: How to keep coffee cold or hot in an environmentally conscious way, and how to effectively recycle coffee cups. Solving the recycling coordination problem for coffee cups meant for hot drinks would be complex and an expensive venture to start, and even if manufacturers and retailers can coordinate effectively, that doesn’t mean that customers will make the venture worthwhile. I believe it would take a massive marketing campaign to convince customers to take ownership in recycling a paper cup. Solving the problem of keeping coffee hot or cold can easily be solved by pushing reusable cups intended for those uses. For example, Starbucks sells insulated mugs and cups that they give a 10-cent discount on each cup of coffee you purchase if you bring in your cup. This is about a 2.5% discount, but the cups average around $20 to $25. That means a customer would have to buy upwards of 200 cups of coffee to see the return on investment. The margin on Starbucks coffee is ridiculously high and if they wanted to better push for the use of reusable cups, they should offer a higher discount per cup of coffee. If the campaign to shift both customers and retailers to use reusable cups is successful, the recycling problem would also be solved. There would be no need to recycle the cups that are no longer being used. However, in the interim, I think we should be satisfied with recycling the sleeve and push for reusables.

  10. Emma Wellington says:

    I don’t think we should give up on coffee cup recycling, because of the new technology and shift in societal expectations. Since people are becoming more environmentally conscious, I think consumers will respond positively to efforts to increase the amount of material that can be recycled. Therefore, I think implementing a specific recycling system for coffee cups at major coffee chains like Starbucks and local shops would be received well by consumers. Having a system that clearly labels what items go into each bin would improve coordination between consumers, coffee shops, and recycling facilities as the materials would be better sorted and increase the number of cups recycled. The article mentioned that Starbucks has been successful in recycling these coffee cups with the plastic liner, so this system could be implemented in other locations as well to recycle the cup and the paper sleeve. One of the current difficulties of increasing recycling according to the article is the system would be too difficult for the recycling facilities to implement on their own. Therefore, by partnering with consumers and coffee shops, the facilities would benefit from easier implementation and less sorting time. Consumers would benefit by feeling good about being environmentally conscience and recycling, and coffee shop brands would be associated with becoming more environmentally conscience.
    Given the desire of retailers to ensure the coffee stays hot, I think they should pursue partnerships with the cup manufacturers to increase research and development on biodegradable coffee cups. As technology is improving, it is likely that R&D can be utilized to develop new container materials that can be better recycled. One of those solutions could be a separate insert that is removed so the paper cup can be recycled. However, if this were to be implemented, it would be important for coffee shops to clearly label the recycling bins so that there is not contamination.

  11. Lindsey Prommer says:

    As someone who cares greatly about recycling (and who will carry a recyclable with me all day so I can recycle it at home), the thought of settling for recycling coffee cup sleeves is saddening. Economically, non-ecofriendly cups are more enticing to coffee shops because they cost less and get the job done, but millennials and Gen Z are changing the tide on environmental activism; younger generations reward businesses that have lower environmental impacts, which is shown by Starbuck’s endeavors to sell reusable cups and offer discounts if you bring your own cup. R&D is being conducted across supply chains to replace polyethylene (coating inside coffee cups) with bio-based plastics. According to a study by out of NC State University, these new cups are usually compostable and biodegradable but high cost remains a roadblock to adoption (Triantafillopoulos and Koukoulas). I am certain that more coordination to solve this problem would occur if governments regulated environmental impacts more closely regarding coffee cups because it would align the goals of the supply chain to not have to pay high fines. If a removable insert was the solution to relatively inexpensive, (mostly) recyclable coffee cups, then I am in favor, though I would hope it is a stepping stone to finding a permanent, fully recyclable option.

    Triantafillopoulos, N., & Koukoulas, A. A. (2020). “The future of single-use paper coffee cups: Current progress and outlook,” BioRes. 15(3), 7260-7287.

  12. AKSHIT JAIN says:

    As mentioned in HuffPost article, recycling coffee cup is not an easy task, because of polyethylene layer inside cup that prevent cup from getting soaked and if these cups thrown away without any treatment, they can affect the environment in drastic way.

    Coffee cups were introduced with aim to provide great coffee experience to on the go customers, but nowadays this category of customers is biggest customer base for companies engaged in coffee chain business, resulting in annual consumption of over 4.5 billion coffee cup in USA alone, if this amount of cups not recycled with proper technique it will result in huge landfills and devastation to environment.

    But with limited capacity to segregate polyethylene from cup paper, focus should be shift towards company and government coordination strategy to improve current conditions.

    From company perspective, first step should be to avoid contamination of lining cups with paper cups, for that company should provide proper disposal information on lining cups, as most customer assume all coffee cups can be recycle because of the recycle logo on sleeve and brand paper sticker over cup, this confusion or lack of information often results in contamination of lining cups with paper cups. Secondly, to reduce overall consumption of cups, company should launch incentive scheme or provide additional discount to customer who bring their own refilling flask or reusable cup with them while ordering, this step will help to lower consumption of lining cups.

    From Government perspective, introducing an additional tax on purchase of lining cup will help to reduce the demand of lining cups among customers, this step can bring some backlash from customer initially and can even result in revenue loss, but as observed in UK where demand of polybags drop drastically after introducing additional tax on purchase of polybags, similar result can be expect for coffee cups.

  13. Chou Yen Hung(Misha) says:

    The impact between recycling and convenience has been long debated. From retailers’ side, they should keep package with low or reasonable cost. In contrast, consumers persuade drinking coffee in convenient way. Therefore, there will be no incentive for most consumers and retailers to conduct recycling action. I think the reusable cup is great solution to reduce waste and more environmental friendly method. In US, Starbucks provide 10 cents rewards for people who bring their own cups. In my opinion, the incentive is too small for consumers to bring their own cup. I think Starbucks can start building customers habits of bring their own cups by raising reusable cup and bundling reusable cup with 10 cups coffee free. When people start changing habits, some of them will start realizing how many waste they produced before.

    Regarding to the separate insert, I think it’s not a great solution because most of people will still throw cups included separate parts into trash can. I think there are two ways to solve the problem. First, Starbucks can try to find new supplier to develop new recycling cup because now more and more people have recycling awareness. However the cup price might be more expensive than before. Second, Starbucks can charge some fee for cups to let people bring their own cups. However, this might loose some customer base. In conclusion, changing customers behavior plays the crucial step to recycle cups or reduce waste.

  14. Kristian Komlenic says:

    If we were to point fingers, I am not sure in which direction to go. If pointing at manufacturer for not finding an alternative, how can we as humans not be responsible because we could make the coffee at home and not waste money. I do not think we should be focusing on only the sleeve, but rather on finding new ways of bringing hot coffee to consumer while maintaining some environmental norms. We can not yet start changing human behavior because whole US culture is based on getting coffee in shortest amount of time, but I would start focusing on reusable cups. Company out of UK, Frugalpac, is already attacking this problem. I think finding companies like Frugalpac will definitely bring more attention to retailers and their view on environment. I do think this will increase recycling. Regarding coordination, it will be dealt by retailers on improving chain structure on restructuring where recycling will take place.

  15. Anupam Choudhury says:

    Recycling is a complex process especially when a combination of materials is used. In our fast-paced world convenience paves the way over environmental concerns. I think there is no easy answer to the solution instead a combination of alternatives. The government and private sector need to collaborate to find a solution. Nobody can really brush aside the problem and pretend our environment will take care of itself. There has to be stricter govt regulation on recyclability as well as sizeable investment in research from the private and public sectors to develop sustainable materials. However, as an interim solution, we can slightly alter the design of the cups as suggested in the post above, which is having a separate plastic sleeve inside a paper cup. Companies can also formulate a reusable cup policy wherein the customer pays a small amount to get the cup and may return it through many alternative channels for a refund, somewhat similar to the model we see in the bottle returns in big retail stores. The west can also look for inspiration from the east in using biodegradable and disposable cups. In India, tea is a popular beverage and large parts of the country still use earthen cups instead of plastic/paper ones.

  16. Nicholas Reverman says:

    This coffee cup problem is something that retailers have been struggling to solve for years now. The simplest solution would be to have customers purchase reusable cups, and retailers can use those cups, and not only save themselves money, but not have to worry about recyclability of those cups. However, one problem is that some people do not want to have to carry a cup around all day and would rather dispose of it once they are done with their beverage. Starbucks pre-COVID allowed people to bring their own reusable cup and gave a $0.10 discount for it. This discount would need to be larger than $0.10 to incentivize people to bring their own cup. If possible, engineering a separate insert to be used would be preferable as well, although many people would not think about or bother removing the insert, so I do not think it is that great of a solution. The ultimate solution would be for companies to pump money into R&D, and coordinate with each other to find a recyclable material that can also keep coffee warm. As stated in the article, the biggest customer base for these retailers are for to-go customers, meaning they most likely will want a disposable cup. Until then, I believe recyclable coffee cups will continue to be troublesome.

  17. Darsh Shah says:

    It is clear that sorting and unmixing the cups from trash for recycling is a cumbersome process and not very cost effective. I think the coordination process should start at the grassroot level where big players like Starbucks should do Marketing Campaigns to promote use of reusable cups. Minimizing the recycling process and the volume of cups recycled is the best way forward. Even if 20% people start using reusable cups 80% of the time, then it will have a huge impact on sustainability and supply chain.

    Coffee Shops should bring in special discounts for customers who use reusable cups. And governments should coordinate with coffee shops to incorporate such changes as it will only be effective if all coffee shops have such discounts. Unless a new breakthrough technology for plastic and polyethylene recycling is invented, the above mentioned approach is the best way forward.

  18. Hao-Wen Weng says:

    To improve the recycling, the coordination between coffee shop/retailer and cup maker should be fostered. If the coffee stays hot 30 minutes with the original coffee cup and the retailers switch it into the fully-recycled coffee cup but staying hot 25 minutes, I believe that most customers are not aware of it. The problem is that retailers just need some incentives to cross the hurdle and choose more eco-friendly coffee cups. If the cup makers are willing to give some discount to retailers on the eco-friendly cup, it will strongly encourage the retailers make change. On the other hand, if there is a design to help customers recycle paper cup, it will definitely increase the customers’ willingness. Also, the coffee shop can cooperate with the recycling community to build up a reward system, and it can encourage customers to recycle the paper cups at their shops or certain locations. Customers can get the points and to redeem points in the coffee shop to get a cup of free coffee. I think most customers are willing to recycle cups, but they are lack of incentives or the instructions to do so. The coordination among the cup maker, coffee shops and recycling communities can create a positive cycle to boost the concept of recycling and share the risk to increase the overall benefits.

  19. Esha Kaushal says:

    With increasing numbers of food and drink outlets offering takeaway beverages in disposable packaging, it is unlikely that the issue of packaging recycling is going to go away any time soon.

    The article highlights the root cause of this issue to be the composition of these cups. They are lined with plastic to make them water resistant and study to hold liquids.

    The options we have, to tackle this solution is to either develop a way to manufacture recyclable, water resistant and study disposable cups without the plastic lining or to educate and reduce consumption of current cups. The first alternative is definitely a more concrete solution but it is a long term one involving large investments.
    What companies can currently focus on is to educate the customers of the impact a single cup has on the environment.

    We saw similar problem occur with polythene bags and to reduce the consumption various retail stores started charging extra for the bag, the same can be applied at coffee shops, they can charge extra $0.50 for a cup. They can get their marketing minds together to start awareness campaigns like Bring Your Own Cup #BYOC to encourage the practice.

    Further, the funds collected from cup purchase can be invested in a long-term solution to improve recycling infrastructure.

    Another problem highlighted by the article was the inability to distinguish between re-cyclable and non-recyclable cups. This issue can be easily solved by have a universal sign to indicate the recycling status eg: Product with Green Dot means that it is meat free or vegetarian. Similar protocol can be established by government authorities to mark goods fit or unfit for recycling.

  20. JASON B HARRIS says:

    This is an interesting discussion considering the need for disposable goods for the longevity of the earth’s sustainability. I immediately consider the facts and best practices already produced by a handful of recycling manufacturers. Considering Seattle, the District of Columbia, New York City, and Denver are among the cities reportedly recycling paper cups, there seems to be a significant amount of data that can provide best practices and cost measures to develop intelligent recycling ecosystems that incorporate coffee cup recycling practices across North America. For the retailers interested in better corporate social responsibility practices (CSR), an evaluation of consumer’s response to grocery bag fees may be a viable option to introduce with coffee cups. Consumers may not be incentivized by the cost savings that come with bringing their own reusable cup; however, the additional cost issued on their bill may. Developing a coordinated plan with recycling manufacturers to absorb the associated expense passed off to the consumer, local government policies, and investments can spearhead the development of this concern. Additionally, like Starbucks, retailers can begin to source coffee cups made with 10-50% recycled coffee cup fibers to increase the demand for recycling manufacturers to invest in the state-of-the-art equipment needed to process. The evaluation of cups with removable inserts may be less advantageous depending on the material of the insert, cost-efficiency, and impact on the recycling process. If recycling centers and paper mills are incentivized to begin the practices found feasible among other plants, the industry will scale over time.

  21. Abhishek Chippa says:

    One solution for this recycling problem is to use reusable cups. Incentives should be given to customers who use reusable cups. As Starbucks already does, other chains should also provide discounts to customers who use them. However, I believe such discounts will only have a limited impact on the consumer behavior. Moreover, the retailers also have a little incentive to spend on promotions on using reusable cups. Also, clear labels should be kept in place implying what type of wastes go into each bins. This will avoid the mixing of non-recyclable cups with the recyclable material and thereby increasing the number of items recycled.
    On the other hand, the government should invest in the research looking for other ways to recycle the cups with plastic liners. As the article mentioned that Starbucks is already being able to recycle such cups, I believe it is possible and can be implemented by others as well.

  22. Li Ci Chuang says:

    My thinking is recycling coffee cups are a good idea but difficult to achieve for many reasons. First the material- polyethylene lining. It said about the challenges associated with coffee cups that have a polyethylene lining, retailer always want to minimize their costs, so they may not change the decision to purchase different kinds of cups with the lining. And then, customers usually care about the buying experience and convenience. If they need to look for somewhere to recycle the cup every time, I think few of them will do so (most of the coffee buying cases are rake-out), and they want to get rid of the empty cups as soon as possible instead of holding them to wait for the right time to recycle. This make the recycling not easy. Therefore, we can take some promotions ways to help this. For example, coffee shop can encourage people to bring their own cups with some discounts when buying, selling some beautiful cups in store, as Starbucks does, is also beneficial to the store revenue. In this way, we can kind of deal with the root problem: decrease the number of cups to be recycled. Besides, if the manufacture two kinds of cups: re-cyclable and non-recyclable cup with these slogans printed on. People would feel guilty if they hold the re-cyclable cups but does not recycle them. Instead, if they hold recyclable ones, they need to tolerate other people’s sights on this, and every sip of coffee, they will see the slogan, reminding them not it is not environmental-friendly at all. This is also a coordination application of manufacturers and retailers.

  23. Shivang Batra says:

    As mentioned in the article, the recycling of coffee cups has been one of the biggest problems. Companies can add a warning on the billboard related to the recycling issue with cups. They can provide incentives to customers for not using coffee cups.

    People usually have the prospects that cups are recyclable which is not the case. So, companies should provide proper disposal information on the lining cups v/s paper cups to remove confusion and make them aware.

    On the other hand, the government can play an important part by introducing an extra tax on plastic use which would result in looking for other options.

    Cups with separate inserts can be a solution but brands like Starbucks or other brands should make sure that people are aware How to dispose separate insert cups?

    More investment into R&D to make coffee cups with biodegradable material can help in finding a better solution to the problem. Starbucks has already announced to offer $10 million for ideas on a better cup design. Through such incentives, cup manufacturers will put more effort to find better solutions for the design.

  24. harishgavva says:

    There is no clear solution at least now as all the current solutions need a big change in consumer behavior which takes a lot of time. The article highlights the root cause of this issue to be the composition of these cups. They are lined with plastic to make them water resistant. The effective solution is to either develop a way to manufacture recyclable, water resistant and sturdy disposable cups without the plastic lining.
    What companies can currently focus on is to educate the customers of the impact plastic in a single cup has on the environment. Coffee shops should encourage people to bring their own cup by providing some incentives and by charging an additional fee on the cups they can also sell the reusable cups which will increase their revenue.
    Government can help by adding an additional tax on usage of these cups to encourage people to look towards the alternate solutions and start campaigns to educate the people. Another problem highlighted by the article was the inability to distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable cups. This issue can be easily solved by having a clear universal sign to indicate the recycling status. Having a detachable plastic lining which can be separated after the use is another great idea but the success of it depends on the ease of detachment process and the economic factors associated with it.

  25. Anantharaman Gomathyshankar says:

    Thoughts on Coffee cup Recycling:

    Coffee cups contribute to landfill waste and could provide an avenue to reduce waste
    by introducing recycling initiatives.

    Product: A coffee cup helps in keeping beverage at desired levels for longer. This function can be achieved by advances in bio-degradable materials to line paper cups.

    Coordination: Supply chain transparency regarding the type of cups used by establishments can help coordinate the effort to introduce a bulk recycling program. This can be conducted under a participatory authority committee.

    Placing the onus of recycling on the customer causes increase in variance of results achieved across the industry. Standardizing the code of conduct for sourcing, procurement and prospective customer management for coffee cups could result in a broad spectrum effective solution.

  26. Rubin Mao says:

    There will be more effective materials being invented and applied to the cup-lining-use in the future, not only effective to keep coffee hot for enough time, but also easy to recycle. But now, the most feasible solution is still to encourage customers to bring their own cups. Some coffee shops, like Starbucks, already have their program to give 0.1 dollar off if customers are using their own cups. More marketing promotions and better benefits are needed to increase customer’s interests on this program. There is a trade of between environment-friendly response and profits.
    Recycling is always a problem since our rapid development brings more trash to the Earth and we are more and more reaching to the earth’s limit. It is not only the retailers’ response to use more recyclable materials, but also governments’ response to make the recycle process more effective and efficient. For most places, there is only one trash bin without marks, whether it is for recyclable or not. Also, in some major cities of China, we are start sorting trashes in the communities. We need to dispose different trash to specified trash bin. But in some areas, although they have trash sorted in the bin, the trash factory still handle the trash all together since it is not able to handle different trashes. There are still lot of efforts need to be input.

  27. Aadav Srimushnam Sundaranathan says:

    As consumers, we are the most responsible people for the problem of plastics and non-degradable materials. Businesses thrive on consumer interests, and our convenience came with a cost which has brought ecological changes beyond repair. Incentivizing responsibility is not a sustainable solution. The technological advancements and new materials pushed us away from sustainable materials such as earthen clay cups in the past to plastics. While new materials will help us achieve economies of scale, we should also look at earthen clay cups which are single-use, do not contribute to landfill problem, and resolves the recycling issues. Our habits should also have to adapt to using of such materials. The whole value chain of clay cups ensures livelihoods to millions and people with artisan skills who otherwise have moved to jobs in sanitation, cleaning, construction and others, struggling to make a living. The process of innovation will certainly open doors for pottery products to achieve economies of scale and meet the demand. In this process, we should not give up on coffee cup recycling because responsibility is on everybody involved in the supply chain.

  28. Mu Hua Hsu says:

    The recycling problem of coffee cups is quite difficult. Although some suggest using a separate insert, which could be removable, of a coffee cup, it is impractical at this time. Customers need to be educated for a long while before being used to the new cups. Besides, because it is inconvenient for them to do an extra step of separating the cups, an incentive is needed, such as offering a discount. Otherwise, customers might be reluctant to do so.

    Ameliorating the current recycling system is also far-fetched due to the technology we have now. The research by Toronto proved that the technology to separate the liner and the paper will lead to a loss for the recycling system. Although Starbucks seems to find a way to make the recycling process cost-effectively, I think the process can only be practice by large companies due to the economy of scale.

    The last way is to use reusable cups. Again, people still need to get educated for using the new product. Therefore, the incentive is as well necessary. Yet compared to the cups with separate inserts, it is more practical since the concept is more easily understandable. Besides, some areas have already implemented similar policies, such as reusable straws, which might make the reusable cups more acceptable for the customers.

    Therefore, I think using reusable cups is a transition period before efficient recycling technology is invented. Yet in the end, we still need to develop an effective recycling system.

  29. Sara Yung says:

    Ethics and sustainability are major pillars that more organizations are paying a lot of attention to in the past few decades. In the food and beverage industry, like coffee/coffeeshop businesses, it can be difficult to adapt to the growing expectation. Coffee cups have a polyethylene lining, which makes the cup un-recyclable. Although the lid and sleeve might be recyclable, I think more consumers would prefer the entire cup to be recyclable. I believe having a separate insert in which customers remove to make the cup recyclable would be unreliable because customers typically prefer a more convenient method. So, more research should go into completely biodegradable coffee cups. Coffee cups should also be clear on what part of the cups is recyclable. One method that more coffeeshops are implementing is allowing customers to bring their own personal cup. The only issue with this system is that the world is now operating under a COVID/post-COVID mentality. So, more people may be more inclined to use single-use items. So, Starbucks’s Borrow-a-cup system could be a better approach to tackle reusable cups because each cup is cleaned and sanitized.

  30. Jiandong Hu says:

    We should never give up on coffee cup recycling. To tackle the issue, I think we could work on the following aspects: alternatives of the polyethylene lining for single-use cups, new technology to recycle those polyethylene lining cups, and reusable cups advocating and management.
    I believe that technical issues will be solved someday. Last year Starbucks rolled out its compostable paper cup in some selected cities, the “BioPBS-lined” cup. It costs more without a doubt. If the trial goes well, it could be introduced around the globe. However, the question is that if the other companies don’t use this cup, all the work will be in vain since Starbucks is only responsible for 1% of the world’s cup usage. It’s challenging to spread the use of this new technology since the company probably gains less profit.
    Reusable cups should be another possible way. Starbucks is holding trials to adopt reusable cups, but only there are also many concerns. How to manage the reusable capacity in each location? How to control the quality of cleaned cups? How to distribute those cleaned and sanitizing cups? The case is similar to the glass milk bottle in Whole Foods, but the difference is that the demand and process for cups will be much more complex, and rotation is constant and fast, so more coordination is needed in this reuse process.

  31. Vinay Krishna Devulapalli says:

    With the existing materials in a coffee cup, sorting the cup’s materials to recycle is a complicated process. Companies should find innovative materials for the lining which keep the coffee hot and dissolves after use. Another way is to promote bringing own cups to fill coffee. They could have a membership program that promises to plant trees after buying a certain number of cups by carrying their containers. Companies should provide incentives to customers who practice this way and raise customer awareness of its environmental impact for each coffee consumed. Running a full-scale marketing campaign by coordinating with YouTubers and famous stars will convert many customers to adapt to the new practice.

  32. Vasif Yusifzada says:

    The convenience of the customers is the priority for most coffee shops and that’s why the primary goal of the coffee shops’ is to ensure that the coffee stays hot. As mentioned in the article, since composite coffee cups can’t be recycled, it creates a long-term problem for the environment. I think we can look at this issue from two different perspectives.
    Firstly, we can analyze the issue from the perspective of recycling companies and conclude that it should be the responsibility of the recycling company to develop a technology that can help to improve coordination and increase recycling. Developing a technology that can recycle composite products is the most effective solution, but it is not easy to implement it without significant investments. Therefore, recycling companies need to receive investments from government and “eco-friendly” investors in order to find a technological solution for this problem.
    The second possible solution is to create a “system” that would balance environmental safety and customer convenience. For example, if coffee cup manufacturers decide to produce high-quality coffee cups which are more environmentally friendly and recyclable, then coffee shops will start buying these cups and offer them as add-ons to the customer orders (such as +$0.5 for eco-friendly coffee cups). In my opinion, this system has a great potential to be supported by the majority of “eco-friendly” customers. This solution might not fully solve the problem, but it will encourage customers to protect the environment and save the future of our world.
    Finally, another perspective on this problem could be using reusable cups but I don’t think that would be supported by many people because for most people it is not convenient to carry their own cups all the time. Especially, considering the fact that they need to wash the cup after every use, customers who visit coffee shops a few times a day, would not be happy about it.

  33. Coumba Niang says:

    Capitalism has pushed many companies to be deceptive about the way they present a product to consumers. Coffee cups are a prime example as many consumers around the world aren’t aware that these cardboard looking cups contain a lining of polyethylene that makes the cup non biodegradable to a 100%. The rise in environmental concerns, mostly coming from millenials and Gen Z, has pushed corporations to take responsibility for environmental disprutions. Companies should create incentive that can reduce waste. One would be to charge a small fee deposit for the cups, and reimburse the fee upon return. This would participate into the circular economy and attempt to close the loop. Another solution would be to have the government implement extremely strict policies with little room for corporations to “escape.” For example, in June 2019, EU member states have to comply with having alternatives to single-use plastics and ban the plastic from the market. In addition design and labelling requirements, and waste management/clean-up are an obligation for producers.

  34. Brian Mbui says:

    The balance between cost, convenience and environmentally friendly products would be a bit challenging to achieve with the coffee cups and this is due to the conflicting interests of the parties involved. The retailers would be concerned with the extra costs involved in purchasing sleeves for the cups, the consumer cares just about the convenience of having a cup on demand and for it to keep its contents hot for long enough, and the environmentalists are concerned about where all the non-recyclable cups are going. The bodies involved with environmental factors could have the governing bodies for retailers pass a law for the kind of cups allowable for use. This would drive up production costs and they might end up being transferred to the consumer. The other alternative would be for the retailers to employ a way of gradually getting rid of free cups so if anyone needs the disposable cups they need to pay for it, but if a customer shows up with their cup, they just pay for the coffee. This may give the retailers a feel of the consumer feedback and if they would be ready to pay extra for recyclable cups or they would shift to carrying their own cups. Several coffee shops like Starbucks offer their own reusable cups at a small cost but with discounted coffee once you have the cup. This method is just okay but not enough since it is at freewill and does not actively try to reduce the use of disposable cups. The retailers need to come up with ways that will actively shift most of their customers from disposable cups in the near future.

  35. Juan Bautista Rigal says:

    I think it is very important to find a solution in this case, whether it is using your own cup or finding the best alternative for coffee consumption. I believe there must be several R&D projects trying to find solutions to this issue. New technologies are the key to change the coffee cup industry, it could lead to efficient recycling cycles and avoid land filling situations. Human behavior it is very difficult to control, so I don’t think bringing your own cup or separating the cup is a long-term solution, people barely separate recycle material. Moreover, new solutions and redesigning the coffee cup can have a higher, faster impact on the industry. In addition, if cost is a problem, coffee shops can charge an environmental fee that could be better for advertising their green initiative.

  36. Zeyu Hu says:

    Borrow-a-cup started by Starbucks provides us a new perspective to solve the problem of coffee cup recycling. Replacing disposable coffee cups with reusable coffee cups can fundamentally solve the environmental pollution problem caused by landfill of disposable cups.
    Two-month borrow-and-return trial was ran in five Seattle stores as part of Starbucks. Trial program allows customers to order their beverage in a reusable cup, each replacing up to 30 disposable cups. Company partners with Seattle-area service, Ridwell, to offer customers an at-home option to return their borrowed cup.
    Here is how it works. 1. Order beverage in a reusable cup and pay a $1 deposit. 2. Return the cup and receive a $1 credit and 10 Bonus Stars. 3. Each cup is professionally cleaned and sanitized.
    In addition, they also offered a home pick-up service for reusable and hard to recycle items, to give customers a second option for returning their borrowed cup.
    This trial by Starbucks may gives other retailers some inspiration in reducing single use cup waste.

  37. Haoning Wang says:

    As we all know, there’s a triangle logo on the recycling coffee cups saying “If people can do a bit for the environment by dropping the coffee cups in the recycling bin, the coffee cups can be recycled 100%.” Indeed, it is a joke. In fact, the vast majority of paper coffee cups are never recycled at all and end up as waste that needs to be buried. Coffee cups cannot be recycled because the cardboard used to make them waterproof has been mixed with polyethylene, which can technically be separated from the cups, allowing coffee chains to claim that paper cups are recyclable. However, ordinary recycling plans can not separate polyethylene from paper cups. It needs to be sent to the special paper cup recycling plant. In my personal perspective, I think there is a possible solution that can improve coordination and increase recycling. Every coffee shop should prepare a specific separate insert that customers can remove to enable the paper cup to be recycled. If so, the coffee shop can classify the cups and recycle them. It is not necessary for us to give up on coffee cup recycling. Coffee cups still can be a huge danger to the environment. Meanwhile, some coffee shops like Starbucks ask their customers, “If they can use their own cups, they can get a discount. ” It is also a good and useful solution.

  38. Yi-Hsuan Hsu says:

    One problem that the recycling company needs to address would be to differentiate cups with polyethylene lining from those with wax. When the cups were being sold to the stores, different shop logos and designs would be put onto the cups. Therefore, it would be extremely hard for the cycling company to identify the sources of the cups and not to say to differentiate the ones with wax from the rest of them.

    The recycling company could solve the problem by better cooperating with the upstream cup manufacturers. For instance, the recycling company could sign a cooperation agreement with the manufacturers. According to the agreement, the manufacturers would need to put small labels that would enable the recycling company to differentiate the cups with wax from those with the polyethylene lining onto the cups, and the recycling company would need to share their profits or the fees of putting small labels onto the cups with the manufacturers.

    The agreement should be practicable, as the recycling company would be able to use the appropriate ways to recycle the cups more efficiently and effectively, and the overall benefit of cost reduction might be greater than the additional cost the recycling company needs to pay the manufacturers.

    There are more cooperation strategies that could be taken to address the recycling problem. For instance, the recycling company could also sign the agreement with the shops, to encourage them to use a separate insert that customers could remove to enable the paper cup to be recycled, and in exchange, sharing the cost that occurred for the shops. As long as the benefit of cost reduction is greater than the additional costs needed to pay for the cooperation agreement, the recycling company would benefit from the cooperation.

  39. Dakota Ropp says:

    I think there is a number of ways that this issue could be addressed. One of the main ways would be do find a way to have the lining that is keeping the coffee cup warm be removable before recycling. A couple ways that this could be done is that we could make the lining something that goes around the cup and then could be removed. The main way would be by making the coffee sleeves be the thing that the material is in. That way you could keep one coffee cup sleeve cutting down on the amount of those used, and also allows the coffee cups to be recycled. However, if you want to be able to leave the lining in the cups, I would say something needs to be done to cut down on the amount of cups used. This could be done by making the cups more durable and able to take more than one cup of coffee. Another possibility could be by setting up programs that reward customers for using the same coffee cup multiple times. However, I believe the best solution would be to find a way to have the lining of the coffee cup be removable. This is because not only would it help with the recycling of the coffee cups, it would also be able to cut down on the amount of coffee sleeves if that is the idea that would be used.

  40. Recycling is by most standard a noble proposition. Some of the benefits of recycling are:
    • Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
    • Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
    • Increases economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials.
    • Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.
    • Saves energy.
    Like any enterprise, there are challenges to recycling operations. First there is the issue with market adoption of product or concept in this case. Recycling in many places, faces social and cultural hesitance which has negative implication for collection quantities. Second, like any other operation, costs efficiency is key to sustainability and even survival of the organization. In the case of recycling operations, the challenge most time is about costs efficiency of the project. Even if there is full adoption of the market, with highest collection levels, the question of costs efficiency remains critical for the operations continuity. Reading the article, it seems like the main issue here is primarily about costs and efficiency of recycling operations. The cups have low grade paper but also have plastic liner incorporated into the fabric. This makes the breakdown and separation process much more complex and eventually more costly. Perhaps the collection quantities or the available number of cups for recycling might not provide for economic sense.
    Coordination in this instance could the way for dealing with the issue. Such partnership would probably require participation of all actors involve with the product. We may opt to make the cups easy to separate for recycling purposes. The plastic part would be made as an insert instead of being incorporated into the paper cup. So, manufacturers and designers need to reconfigure and modify current product. Customers may be asked to separate the two parts before recycling, and coffeehouses, would have to provide needed resources for collecting the parts separately. Obviously, recycling entities would complete the rest of the process. According to the article, Starbucks has proven this process is feasible by recycling about 25 million disposable cups last year. Coordination could go as far as Canada recycling organizations working to send their collections to their US counterparts who have been doing this process already. Paying a fee for the outsourcing here might be more economical than outlaying much more to invest into new and expensive equipment. Otherwise, if this cannot be completed efficiently, as related to costs, then indeed let’s forget about it and be content with only recycling cup sleeves.

  41. Wenbo You says:

    I do not think we should simply give up on recycling coffee cups. Though more people are aware of environmental issues today, a lot of customers are indifferent when it comes to recycling coffee cups, making recycling harder to be effectively performed. Customers of the large roastery and coffeehouse businesses such as Starbucks, Costa, or even McDonald’s, are more used to drink from a disposable coffee cup. So, a potential solution that I would suggest, is to encourage the use of reusable cups by offering a small discount to customers who bring their own cup. Maybe customers who own their own Starbucks cups can be given some kind of small membership benefits.
    Other than that, I believe having a separate insert could be an ideal solution that will be beneficial to coffee cup recycling. However, the effectiveness will solely rely on the customers’ willingness to cooperate. Considering the aforementioned issue of customer’s indifference to recycling, whatever brilliant mechanism would not be effective if the people would not want to properly recycle, in this case, to properly separate the insert and the cup before discarding them.

  42. Oladapo Olatunde says:

    An Article in Fast company “Starbucks recycled million old paper coffee cups into new cups” gives us an insight into how old paper coffee cups could be recycled cost effectively. Although the material might be different, the recycling process can be modified to handle the polyethylene lining and adapted into the process. Some sophisticated equipment can be acquired to sort the recycling. Also charging customers extra fee for paper cups, may be an effective strategy and help reduce litter and promoting the use of reusable coffee cups with financial incentives could be an effective strategy. If we are to consider a separate insert that customers could remove to enable the paper cup to be recycled, there should be concerted effort to first create a broader awareness of the wider problems associated with the plastic solution. This will help consumers better embrace the process. Giving up is not an option, we need to better find a way to address to the problem.

  43. Su Tien Lee says:

    Some ways I know how people reduce the waste of coffee cups is by giving some discounts for customers with their cups. For example, in my home country, by handing over my own bottle, I can get a 6% discount in cash. I think by applying this customer-benefited method, they would be more willing to contribute to recycling. Other ways would be offering a recycling system in the coffee store. As a customer, I can borrow a recyclable bottle and pay the deposit. In the afternoon, when I finish my coffee, I can return the empty container to the store and get my deposit back. By doing so, customers do not have to rush through their coffee in the store but can enjoy the environmental protection in a simple way.

    I think having a separate insert in the paper cup may work for recycling to some extent because it allows some people to do recycle easily. But on the other hand, this step is easily being forgotten and some people don’t care if they remove it or not, or they don’t want to dirty their hands by doing so. Coffee cups recycle has always been an issue. Even though no significant breakthroughs have been made, I think at least trying to reduce some waste is worth doing it. Every small step we make will become a giant leap to the future.

  44. Mark Stickford says:

    As many above have commented, it is very difficult to convince consumers that the environment is worth an inconvenience to them. Seen as whole it is obvious to see that it would be a good move forward, and I think many consumers would agree. However, each consumers looks at themselves separately and usually has the question and resolution that, “What is one cup being recycled going to do? I can keep my same practices.” Having an optional separate insert would be a good jumping off point to start consumers entering the environmentally friendly mindset. This can be compared to the paper straw movement that was seen several years ago, however it has been very difficult for consumers to switch to this product because they believe it is a worse product. If these coffee inserts kept the high quality product of a normal coffee cup, but allowed for recycled paper products it would be much easier to convince consumers to move forward. Overall, the best option would be to have a product that keeps coffee hot, doesn’t inconvenience the consumers, and is recyclable. However, until this breakthrough is made consumers will have to give up convenience or quality in order to use a more environmentally friendly coffee cup, which has been an eternal struggle for many industries.

  45. Hasit Yarlagadda says:

    Recycling coffee cups has been a difficult task since they contain a polyethylene lining which prevents the cups from getting soaked and hence difficult to recycle as well. Removing this layer is not feasible since the coffee cups would then not serve the purpose of keeping the coffee hot. It is difficult to satisfy both the parties with a single solution. As per the article, Starbucks was able to successfully recycle these polyethylene lined cups as well. This technique should be followed by other retailers as well.
    To improve the ease of recycling process, there must be some coordination between the retailers and the recycling companies. For this, the two parties can strike a revenue share agreement, where the recycling companies pay a share to the retailers to encourage their customers to dispose the cups into separate bins. This share would give an incentive to the retailers to maintain separate bins for recyclable cups as well as encourage customers to follow that. The recycling companies would not have to spend more time and effort to segregate the waste before recycling.
    Having a separate insert inside the coffee cup would add on an additional task for the customer to remove the insert before disposing and there might be an initial backslash for this initiative. But if government supported this and laid tax on cups not complying with these standards, then the customers might get used to this separate inserts and make the task of recycling companies easier.

  46. Tianlun Zheng says:

    Many of the biggest coffee retailers in the world started providing incentives for customers to bring in their own reusable mug rather than using a disposable cup. And coffee retailers often discount for the customers using reusable cups. Or providing some reward programs could also encourage customers using less non-recyclable cups.

  47. Wei-Ling Huang says:

    Developing recyclable coffee cups is no doubt a key to solving this issue, but this technology is not available in the market yet. So, coffee retailers are facing with the trade-off between customer experience and environmental friendliness.

    Having an additional separate insert would be a possible solution only if customers are used to doing recycling. Otherwise, both of the insert and coffee cups would still end up going to the same trash bin, which might make it worse.

    I think we should not give up on coffee cup recycling, because technology has never come out just overnight. Before we get there, we can focus on reducing the consumption of coffee cups. Nowadays, most chain coffee shops have already been offering a purchase discount of about 5% off to encourage customers to bring their own reusable cups or bottles. I think it’s a good solution for now especially for loyal customers in terms of savings on both coffee purchase expense and consumption of coffee cups.

  48. Chi-Wen Chen says:

    The key to recycle coffee cups is to coordinate the each individual in the supply chain. In this case, the coffee cups producers do not have the incentive to create a design that allows customers to easily recycle those cups. Therefore, one way to solve this problem is to give those producers a financial motivation to do that. For instance, retailers can modify their supply contract with manufacturers to include terms that will provide cash back or discount so that supplier will be more willing to follow this direction.

  49. Colton Kaplan says:

    I believe the recycling of coffee cups is a large and complex issue but needs to be addressed immediately. The polyethylene lining that is included in the material of Starbucks cups prevents them from being recycled. Starbucks has partnered with Closed Loop Partners to find a solution. Also, in the past before COVID-19 they provided a 10 cent discount for customers bringing resuable cups. I believe COVID-19 has provided many challenges regarding the promotion of reuse for sanitary concerns. Right now, as a leader in the industry they need to invest in educating the consumer’s on sustainability so people change their perspective and behaviors.

    To solve coordination issues on what items could be recycled a uniformed logo that is easily visible should be required on every item. I do not think that having an insert that customers could remove would work due to customers extra effort. Also, it is not a viable long term solution for the environment. With focus on sustainability people need to find different materials to use as solutions and change their habits for future generations.

  50. szargham says:

    I have no knowledge how coffee and its level of acidity and temperature can reacts to what materials in a cup and why or why not certain materials can work. Therefore, I will focus my comment based on a different solution as I am sure knowing what materials will create a compound in a coffee is not the focus of this assignment and this Logistic Course.

    As I was reading this discussion prompt, one thought comes to my mind. Bring your own cup! However, it will have some challenges such as sanitary reasons as well as different cups, different shapes, different size and materials. If the coffee shop can sell 3 standardize size with a promise of some sort of rebate or discount on future coffees, I think they might be able to REDUCE the number of paper cups and incentives customers to purchase their cup and bring it for the next time. I believe you can only reduce the paper cups and cannot be eliminating them since not everyone likes to carry their mug or flask after they drink their hot or cold beverages.

    If they have to serve paper cup coffee with the line, they could clearly marked the cup and have a designated recycle bins with the same mark on it so the customers drop them there. This probably wont work at the beginning, but after the customer learning periods passes, it could become easier to recycle those.

  51. Rajinder Budhiraja says:

    In my ethical and sustainable supply chain course at Purdue, I had the opportunity of making suggestions to find possible solutions to this global problem faced by the recycling industry, on how to recycle these single-use coffee cups that are made from paper and lined with a form of plastic called polyethylene. Separating paper and polyethylene from disposable single-use coffee cups is a complex and expensive procedure. Therefore, many companies continue to pass the buck to recyclers saying that it’s their problem.

    I can make a possible suggestion to address this problem and analyze the idea from the 4C framework of supply chain logistics.

    An idea called ‘Cupffee’ where the coffee mug is made up of edible cereals that can be munched upon like an ice-cream cone. I read about this idea in a case study during my coursework, and this has already been adopted by many mom-and-pop coffee shops in Bulgaria where the idea originated. Pro – It’s edible and completed bio-degradable. Con – It can hold hot coffee on for 40 minutes after which the cupffee starts to disorient its shape and become soggy. Having that said, I am confident that only a very few proportions of people who use single-use disposable coffee cups, hold them for longer than 40 minutes before finishing their cofee.

    The logistical challenge that this poses is from capacity constraint. These cups have a six-month self-life whereas the single-use paper-cum-plastic cups had no such expiration. Chain structure-wise, the coffee shops can start making their own cups in their kitchen and that would ensure better supply chain coordination as at least two entries of the chain would now be under the same ownership allowing better decision making for the supply chain.

    In my view, this solution address both the questions asked in the blog.

  52. Daniella Cobos says:

    I think we should not give up on recycling coffee cups. People nowadays are becoming more conscientious on the environment and the impact we have on it. Therefore, research should be conducted to find materials that could be recycled. It is important to invest on the research in order to find a way to fully recycle these cups. Recycling the sleeves is not enough.

  53. Vikram Narendra says:

    I think “coffee cup recycling” is a serious problem and needs to be addressed immediately. I never knew about this problem before reading the article, and it is important that people are educated about these problems. On one end, there is so much effort invested in recycling, and on the other end, knowing just a single coffee cup can contaminate the entire lot is criminal. With better coordination between end-users and coffee chains, we can have more sustainable solutions.

    One way I can think of is looking into data where Coffee is mostly consumed – offices, colleges, or while traveling. If we can set up collection bins at the point of consumption( gas stations, at office floors) and provide an incentive of 50 cents for every cup disposed of, it will educate and encourage users to recycle sustainability.

  54. Ahmed Hegazy Ali says:

    Coffee cup recycling is a major problems within both developing and developed nations. Coffee is majorly consumed on the go, and cups are not designed to be thrown away. I believe that there needs to be incentive for both manufacturer, retailer, and consumer to promote recycling cups within the market. Furthermore, branding each material with a visible label to ensure that it is recycled correctly is essential. Educating consumers and workers should be part of the supply chain, along with the coordination of information within the users to ensure sustainability is ongoing.

  55. bmyczkow says:

    I think the biggest hurdle in recycling coffee cups will be cultural differences over what people drink from, where, and why people drink coffee. In many cultures coffee is part of a daily routine, not something consumed in passing to “wake up,” these cultures spend more time on their morning cup of coffee, often times enjoying it in accompaniment with breakfast, and as a result they tend to drink at home, or in a sit down setting where the cups/mugs are reusable. For coffee drinkers who are more focused on convenience and “to-go” consumption they most likely can’t be bothered to separate their coffee cup. However, most people who drink coffee tend to do so on a recurring basis, meaning that they are likely to be persuaded to simply carry their own reusable container which can be filled at their favorite coffee shop. Some coffee shops already use a similar system, where you can bring your own mug (purchased previously at the shop) and you can get your coffee in your own container, thus eliminating waste from disposable cups. In my opinion I think mandating that everyone has their own reusable cup is the easiest way to eliminate waste from improper recycling.

  56. Yilun Xie says:

    The solution I would recommend is that, first, look for any recyclable materials that can replace the plastic lining but also can help keeping the coffee hot, even if the cost of the coffee cups will have to increase. Second, if it is not possible to find a certain material, maybe the cup should be design in a way that the customers can take the lining out and throw them separately in the trach can. And beyond that, design a certain type of trash can that are just for coffee cups, and such trash can have two separate bins for the lining and the cup itself. Third, if all of the previous steps are not possible, charge the customers extra for using the one-time coffee cups, encourage customers to use their own coffee mug or bottle to get their coffee.

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