Kezia Dugdale: Wake up and smell the coffee cups

Coffee chains can afford to dabble with alternatives to plastic. Picture: Getty
Coffee chains can afford to dabble with alternatives to plastic. Picture: Getty
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The trend to rid the world of single-use plastic is a noble one and nobody deserves more credit for educating the public as to why it matters than Sir David Attenborough.

His focus on the damage plastic does to our seas has seen the rapid disappearance of plastic straws across the country and “micro-beads” from our beauty products. Sights are now set on takeaway coffee cups. Across the UK we use seven million cups which are sipped at and chucked away across the country every day. That’s 2.5 billion a year.

READ MORE: Michael Gilmartin: We’ll step up to the coffee cup challenge
While they look like paper they are of course lined with plastic and therefore very difficult to recycle. That’s if they make it into a recycling bin and even then there’s a question: a new study out just yesterday sadly revealed that some of our recycling sacks still end up in landfill, and the audit trail for where your cup really ends up is a poor and unreliable one.

That’s kickstarted a new trend of “vegware” – compostable cups. That’s all well and good assuming it ends up a compost box. But spare a thought for the little guy in all of this. While big chain cafes can afford to dabble with alternatives to plastic, independents don’t have that luxury. Perhaps the best thing we can do for the environment is just sit down and take the time to drink that coffee instore.