Are single-use plastic cups recyclable

To-go mugOf because of recyclable!

Sure, paper cups are not good for the environment. We know. But at least they can be recycled. Or so we thought. But: there is only one processing plant in Germany that can really do that. And the cups almost never end up there.

The good news: the plastic lid can be easily recycled if it ends up in the yellow sack. The bad: the paper cup can hardly be recycled at all. The reason is the plastic coating inside the cup. This ensures that the paper cups, even though they consist of 95 percent paper fibers, cannot be recycled again. Because the polyethylene coating makes the cups shrivel up, explains Thomas Fischer from Deutsche Umwelthilfe. Only the recycling plant in Merseburg can cleanly separate paper fibers and plastic.

"The paper cup is as good as not recyclable."

The second problem with the paper cups: They don't even end up in the recycling cycle. Because coffee to go is consumed on the go and that is why most cups do not go to the yellow bin, but to public rubbish bins. If they end up there at all and are not disposed of in the environment, says Thomas Fischer.

"Public waste bins are not sorted again, but the content ends up in the incinerator."
Thomas Fischer from Deutsche Umwelthilfe

Reusable fails due to VAT

More and more coffee lovers are therefore opting for a reusable cup, but often fail because of the company. They refuse to fill the cup they brought with them. Often with the reason that this is forbidden for hygienic reasons. The German Environmental Aid has therefore asked various hygiene offices whether there are reasons that speak against filling reusable cups. Nothing.

"The refilling of reusable cups brought with you with coffee is not forbidden."
Thomas Fischer from Deutsche Umwelthilfe

Of course, certain hygienic regulations must be observed. If the cup is very dirty, it must be rinsed on site, it must not come into contact with the filler neck and it must not negatively affect other food, explains Thomas Fischer. He therefore sees the real reason for the refusal more in financial interests: less sales tax has to be paid on a coffee drink in one-way cups. While only 7 percent is due for coffee in disposable cups, 19 percent has to be paid for serving in porcelain cups.

"Here, the fact that reusable cups are less taxable are encouraging the massive sale of disposable paper cups. And that cannot be serious about the Ministry of Finance."
Thomas Fischer from Deutsche Umwelthilfe

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