Paper Cup Recycling Question

Paper cups perform a simple task but can be complicated for people who want to recycle. The cups do contain paper,but a thin coating of plastic or wax makes the recycling process much more difficult than your run-of-the-mill sheet of office paper.

Are paper cups lined with something to make them liquid resistant? Yes. Paper cups are coated with a plastic or wax lining to add temperature control, leak control and durability.

Does that lining make them non-recyclable? Plastic and wax linings prevent paper cups from getting soggy as you sip, but these linings are usually too difficult to separate during the paper recycling process. A select few communities accept paper cups for recycling, but a specialized process must be put in place to recycle these materials. Jump to recycling locator to see if your community accepts paper cups.


Can you recycle to-go coffee cups? Due to wax and plastic linings, few communities accept to-go coffee cups for recycling. Coffee companies have recognized the need to create a recyclable cup, such as Starbucks. But critics still question why it’s taking so long.


To fight your personal battle against cup waste, bring a reusable travel mug with you on trips to the coffee shop, or try one of these handy reusable replacements to help you green your morning cup.