Paper coffee cups can now be recycled in your blue cart and community recycling depot. Make sure to remove the plastic lid, empty the contents and give your paper cup a rinse before recycling.
Types of acceptable paper cups
Paper cups with a thin plastic lining (polyethylene also known as a 'polycoat') are acceptable. These cups are single-use and are disposable. This includes the take out coffee cups commonly found at coffee shops like Starbucks, Tim Horton's and McDonald's. Fountain pop cups or soft drink cups can also be recycled and are commonly found at food courts and fast food restaurants.
Remove plastic lids
The plastic lids are too small and light to be properly sorted at the recycling facility. Even if they have a recycling symbol on them, they should be placed in your black cart as garbage. Other unacceptable items include straws, stir sticks and tea bags which should also be thrown away.
How to tell if you have a waxed cup
Waxed paper cups are not very common, but are usually used for cold beverages such as at a water cooler. Scratch your fingernail along the inside of the cup – if it is a waxed cup, you will see a noticeable layer of wax under your fingernail.
Waxed cups are not recyclable and should be disposed of in your black cart as garbage.
How paper coffee cups are recycled
Paper cups are sorted as mixed paper at the recycling facility. The cups along with other mixed paper products are sent to paper pulp processors where the paper fibres extracted to make into new materials.
New technologies have allowed paper pulp processors to be able to separate the polycoat lining from the paper fibres within coffee cups. The cups and other polycoated papers are first shredded, then enter a 'hydropulper', which agitates the material in a water bath to separate and then filter the layers. This allows the paper fibres to then be able to be used to make new paper products such as cereal boxes, egg cartons and more.
Make the better choice
When getting a coffee on the go, use a reusable cup or mug instead. It will help prevent waste and save on resources.