Of these, a staggering 14.4 billion are bought in disposable paper cups (www.carbonrally.com) and another 25 billion in styrofoam cups(http://www.carryyourcup.org/get-the-facts). Placed end-to-end, the paper cups alone would wrap around Earth 55 times and weigh around 900 million pounds.
Paper and cardboard make up over 40% of the solid waste buried in North American landfills. Of that 40%, a disproportionate amount is attributable to disposable coffee cups. Unlike newspaper and cardboard boxes, disposable paper cups are not recyclable. The thin lining that makes a paper cup waterproof also keeps it from being recycled. All of those cups end up in our nation’s landfills.
The manufacture of the coated paper stock used in making coffee cups requires energy. It also takes energy to manufacture cups from the paper stock. And then it takes more energy to transport the completed coffee cups from the factory to the coffee shops. All of that energy most likely comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere.
A solution? Bring your own mug to your favorite coffee shop to reduce waste and save money. Some coffee shops offer a small discount for using a reusable tumbler. Using a reusable coffee mug instead of disposable five times a week will reduce your CO2 emissions by 1.25 lbs per week (http://www.carbonrally.com/challenges/12-Paper-Coffee-Cups). You can also check to see what parts of your drink holder might be recyclable. The plastic top, if relatively clean (no sticky food), and the corrugated cardboard sleeve can be recycled in our area.