Take away coffee cup waste not recycled in Port Macquarie

DESPITE being bio-degradable, eco-friendly and recyclable, many take away coffee cups in the Hastings end up in land fill.

A local barista was fed up with customers being led astray by some cafe owners, reaching out to the Port News in frustration.

Takeaway coffee cups are lined with a plastic film inside, making them difficult to recycle. 500 billion are produced globally each year, 1 billion of these used in Australia. It is estimated 90 per cent end up in landfill.

Justin Bonsey, founder of the popular Responsible Cafes program, said most never make it to recycling no matter what bin they are put in. 

"This is because recycling streams are usually contaminated by supposedly compostable or biodegradable cups and lids that never actually compost or biodegrade," he said.

Although this is the case, some cafes still promote bio-degradable take away cups.

"I think it is ridiculous that it is used as a marketing tool in some places," said one barista.

"I have worked in cafes for eight years and to see it used a sales pitch to draw in unsuspecting customers is wrong."

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council group manager, Maria Doherty, confirmed council's Waste Management Services are currently not equipped to recycle or compost takeaway single-use coffee cups.

"This is due to the complexity of collecting different types of cups - often made of different materials - and the resources and technology required to compost and recycle appropriately," she said.

"This is a common issue experienced by many councils across Australia. Takeaway cups are, by their nature, difficult to collect.

“They are used in a huge variety of locations including the car, home, the workplace, parks and beaches – basically all over our region."

Council is a strong advocate for the use of reusable coffee cups rather than single-use cups, and are a partner of the Responsible Cafes program locally which promotes local businesses reducing or eliminating disposable coffee cups.

"Council estimate there are around 5000 single-use coffee cups disposed of in local litter bins each day," Ms Doherty said.

"We welcome any initiative that aims to reduce this impact on our environment and that encourages the use of reusable coffee cups locally.

"Earlier this year in support of Plastic Free July, in a single month, council staff prevented more than 2,500 single-use cups from going to landfill."