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Why your coffee cup may not be recyclable

CONTRARY to popular belief, single use coffee cups are not recyclable.

However, as pointed out by the third and final episode of War on Waste last night, many of them are tossed into the recycling bin.

Host of the ABC series, Craig Reucassel, took a tram filled with coffee cups through the city of Melbourne in order to show local workers and residents the environmental damage their daily coffee habit caused.

RELATED: Wake up and smell the (recycled) coffee cup

You see, takeaway coffee cups are lined on the inside with a plastic film, making them notoriously difficult to recycle.

Here on the Northern Rivers, coffee cups may be able to be recycled at the Lismore Materials and Recovery Facility, but often coffee cups are going in the wrong bin and ending up in landfill, and outside of the areas that are collected by the Lismore MRF, thousands of cups are ending up in landfill every day too.

So after all the resources and energy used to create that single coffee cup, they are used for a matter of minutes, before being thrown into a landfill pile for a thousand years to come.

Many even end up in the ocean where they break up into small bits that marine life mistake for food, causing injury or death to countless animals.

From trees to oil to water to waste, these cups are certainly leaving their mark on Australian culture and the environment with 1 billion cups landfilled and littered every year.

Craig Reucassel in a scene from the TV series War on Waste. Supplied by ABC TV.
Craig Reucassel in a scene from the TV series War on Waste. Supplied by ABC TV.

But you CAN change this, by bringing your own reusable coffee cups when you get your daily latte.

You don't need anything fancy - you can use a KeepCup, an insulated travel mug from your local supermarket, grab one online, even a glass jar or a regular mug from your office desk.

Just by bringing some sort of reusable mug, and you are making a little change with a huge impact.

As more and more people have jumped on board with reusable cups, the Responsible Cafes initiative has been created, with 450 cafes, 26 councils, dozens of environment and community groups, and countless volunteers all committed to spreading the BYO word currently.

Responsible Cafes is building a culture of reuse by connecting cafes and coffee lovers based on a simple idea: BYO cup and get a discount.

Cafes offer customers with BYO cups a small discount creating loyalty among anyone keen to save a cup or a buck, while coffee lovers get their fix for less.

Every cafe gets listed on a national map too, so once you've got your BYO cup, you can figure out where to head for a coffee with a discount.

You can watch the War on Waste series here.