When it comes to environmental impact, a major issue is that 99 per cent of coffee packaging is made of plastic, usually the flexible type that is not normally recycled in the UK. However, some brands are beginning to introduce recyclable packaging, such as Bird & Wild.
Buying in bulk is another way to reduce your coffee packaging footprint. But what happens when you are away from home? Only one in 400 disposable coffee cups ends up being recycled, with the vast majority going straight to landfill, according to a 2017 report from the UK government. The simplest solution is to use a reusable coffee mug.
Rooke from the British Coffee Association says: “It’s a big challenge because you have a product that is predominantly cardboard, which is easily recyclable, but there is also a plastic liner for the liquid. The problem is, how are they recycled when they need to be separated? “
One brand to check out is Circular & Co, which has developed a way to recycle single-use coffee cups as a whole; In your method, you don’t need to separate the layers of the components. The cups are shredded and then combined with other recycled plastics and made into products like flower pots, clocks, and of course reusable coffee cups.
Image: Toa Heftiba
Main illustration: Alex Tait