Australia indeed loves coffee, so it’s no wonder why people associate mornings with the scent of fresh coffee brewing, or a fast ride to coffee shops before working. Yet what we didn’t realize is that the coffee cups are slowly stacking up and polluting the environment.

Commonly, coffee shops use paper coffee cups. But don’t get fooled with the word ‘paper’ because it’s as harmful as plastics. While they look like they’re made of paper, disposable coffee cups are usually lined with plastic – which unfortunately means they’re not recyclable.

So the next time you visit your favourite coffee shops and order a takeaway coffee, consider the following shreds of evidence showing we’re going to the worst-case scenarios.

Number of Coffee Cup Waste

The only problem with using disposable cups is that they are designed to last only for one use. A lot of effort goes into making them, but it only takes just one coffee that lasts less than an hour to be useless.

Coffee cups are estimated to be Australia’s second-largest contributor to the increasing number of waste after plastic bottles. Statistics show that every half hour, Australians throw out 50,000 cups making it 2.7 million disposable coffee cups every single day and 1.2 billion coffee cups thrown out every year.

As Australia is known to dump so much waste every year, the rising number of coffee cups waste is not surprising. The ever-increasing caffeine habit may be doing more harm than we thought. Despite warning from the environmentalists, disposable coffee cups are already on their way to being a major pollution threat. 

Coffee Cup Wasted in Landfills

Council collections consider only a handful of coffee cups for recycling. Since thin plastic coating makes them waterproof, most coffee cups in most paper recycling mills can’t be processed efficiently, so the majority are sent to landfill.

There are up to 90% of coffee cups equating to 60,000 kg of plastics per annum that ends up in Australia’s landfills. This happens when the higher chance of coffee cups being recycled are contaminated because people are erroneously throwing them into the recycling bins. 

Are Coffee Cups Recyclable?

Most of the standard disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled through the standard paper recycling process because they have polyethylene or a plastic liner. The waterproof plastic makes it impossible to recycle, but there are still 10% of a few hybrid varieties of coffee cups on the market that are recycled.

In the recycling process, paper mills can easily remove most pollutants during the repulping cycle and clean out residues, but the fine screen in coarse pulping clogs if plastic liners break up into relatively large flakes. So as a result, instead of dealing with clogged filters which are detrimental to productivity, plastic-lined coffee cups are piled up in the landfill.

Even ‘compostable’ cups are seldom composted. Since the existing composting facilities in Australia are not mechanically ready to remove the plastic lining from the paper. It can also be difficult to transport enough of the right cups to the right place for composting because there are no labels for coffee cups which can help people easily differentiate which coffee cups are recyclable and not.

In addition, disposable coffee cups are a major burden on the waste management system and the environment in Australia, contributing to landfills, growing waste statistics and harmful transport emissions.

The most sustainable way to drink coffee is to avoid disposable cups. But if you get stuck without your reusable cup, and you don’t have time to sit down for a coffee, you can recycle your coffee cup.


Every day most people decide to take their coffee away in a paper cup without knowing that they are contributing to the rising statistics of coffee cup wastes.  But as the number rises every year, the urgency to provide a solution to the coffee cups waste problem increases as well.

At Paul’s Rubbish Removal, keeping waste issues in Australia manageable is one of our responsibilities. Since it’s not only humans but also wildlife that gets affected every day by the increasing number of wastes. 

With us, we encourage you to do your part by starting to use coffee cup alternatives. For more information about coffee cups and waste collection services, give us a call at 0407 125 125 or send us an email at

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    We needed a few boys to come down to the building site and remove large amounts of materials after the demolition. Paul was very friendly and gave us all the info we needed. We scheduled for him to come down on the same-day as it was an urgent job. Not only did he arrive on-time and got the job done, he very professional throughout the clean-out and managed his team very well. Top job mate!

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