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Recycling Questions? Ask Sonja and Ashley Edition #3

Edition #3 'Ask Sonja & Ashley' is hot off the press!

Missed edition 1 and 2? Check out the answers to previous recycling questions here >

Or, click the titles to read: 

Third Topic: Coffee cups

Where should I dispose of empty coffee cups when I'm at a hospital or residential care site?

Dispose all empty coffee cups into garbage bins: 

Did you know that the plastic coffee lid can go into the Mixed Containers and the paper sleeve into the Mixed Paper?

Why can’t I recycle coffee cups?

Our recycling vendor for Lower Mainland hospitals and residential care sites doesn’t accept coffee cups. 

Coffee cups are difficult to recycle for two main reasons:

  1. They aren’t 100% paper fiber and are all different: some are polystyrene, some have a wax coating and others are compostable.
  2. Many are placed in the garbage with remnants of coffee in them, or worse, apple cores and other waste items.

Both result in contamination of recycling loads and the end result is a low quality paper.

But wait. Why can I recycle empty coffee cups at home?

Many municipalities are now accepting disposable coffee cups in their mixed paper recycling programs. The program charges a fee to coffee cup retailers based on the amount of coffee cups recycled. Contaminated loads are less common because coffee cups amount to less than 1% of the total mixed paper recycling stream in homes.

Even coffee cup retailers struggle with contamination and don’t explicitly commit to recycling the cups.

Re-usable coffee mugs are best.

Send us your questions!

Unsure about what can and can’t be recycled and why? Or do you have an inspiring story about recycling in your unit? 

Send an email to marianne.dawson@fraserhealth.ca. We will include your question in a future edition or contact you directly.