Return, Reuse, Recycle

You might be surprised to learn that those “paper” coffee-to-go-cups from your daily commute cannot be recycled. They just end up in landfills. One German company called Recup is trying to change that. Here’s how:

No, you cannot recycle those disposable “paper” coffee cups!

Are you as surprised as I am? With Germany leading the world’s highest recycling rates (Germany recycles over 55% of their municipal waste ref.), I assumed my takeaway drinks were being turned into shoes, furniture or the latest trend.

Well, those takeaway cups at most coffee shops are currently almost impossible to recycle.

But aren’t they “paper” cups?

Paper cups are recyclable! This is confusing.

These cups have a waterproof lining that are made of polyethylene, a material that cannot easily be separated in a standard recycling mill ref. As a result, they cannot be recycled with collections of paper, cardboard nor plastic. Even worse, it may actually contaminate a load, causing the whole load to be sent to the landfill.  

Now, you don’t have to give up on your morning cup of joe!

But if you want to make a big impact on our planet with one simple change, here is how…

RECUP offers a way to take your coffee-to-go in your own cup, even when you forget yours at home.

Reuse and Recycle are not new ideas, but innovative startups like RECUP make it easier and more cost-effective for consumers as well as companies to reduce waste.

How does this help the environment?

A look at the numbers:

  • Each year, in Germany alone, 2,8 billion coffee-to-go cups are thrown away after just one use. That is 320,000 coffee-to-go-cups every hour ref.
  • A small percentage gets recycled. The rest goes into landfills, where it will take over 30 years to break down ref.
  • The average use-time of a disposable cup is about 15 minutes.
  • For the production of polyethylene for the inner coating of the cups and polystyrene lids, approx. 22,000 tonnes of crude oil are consumed annually.
  • The production of coffee-to-go cups consumed annually in Germany produces CO2 emissions of around 83,000 tonnes.
  • The production of polystyrene lids causes an additional 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

A Great Solution

Return, Reuse, Recycle
  • Extra-light & shatterproof
  • BPA-free
  • Created from 100% recyclable plastic (polypropylene) the most sustainable alternative for a reusable cup right now.
  • Durable – stands up to repeated washings (each RECUP can be used 500 times before being recycled).
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Made in Germany

How Does It Work?

RECUP is helping to eliminate our problem of single-use disposable cups. At any participating café or bakery, purchase a re-usable cup for a 1 EURO deposit with your order. Get your 1 EURO deposit back at any participating shop when you return your cup. These shops will wash and disinfect the cups for reuse. It’s a great initiative towards becoming Zero Waste.

Now you can order your ‘Latte or Frappuccino’ guilt-free.

When you create actual incentives, everyone wins!

Reuse and recycle

Where Do I Start?

1. Download the RECUP app – available on the App Store or Google Play

2. Find partner locations – Close to 2000 cafes, bakeries and stores in Germany.

3. Order – For 1 Euro deposit customers get their coffee in the reusable RECUP-mug… but get a discount on your order!

4. Empty Cup – give it to any of the other participating establishments and collect your one euro refund. Leave the washing up to someone else.

I hope you try it out. If you do, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more on How-To recycle in Germany, please read this wonderfully thorough article from our friends at Simple Germany.


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