Transport Canberra and City Services

Wondering about coffee cups in the ACT?

Many coffee cups have a layer of plastic inside the cardboard. This makes it difficult to tell which coffee cups can be recycled and most people end up confused.

The best thing people can do to avoid this waste is to utilise a reusable cup.

It is estimated that a billion coffee cups are sold in Australia each year1 and most of these end up in landfill. Takeaway coffees are usually consumed in public places and so cups are often disposed of in general waste bins or sadly some end up as litter. Nearly 23% of all litter in NSW consisted of take away food and beverage containers in 2015.2

In the Canberra region, paper and cardboard based coffee cups are accepted by our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

  • Coffee cups are an extremely small part of the recycling stream sorted at the MRF
  • Coffee cups received at the MRF are baled with other paper and cardboard and sold for processing.
  • Some of the cup material is recovered, but the plastic layer ends up in landfill
  • The use of mixed materials presents recycling challenges for many packaging items (not just coffee cups)
  • The best thing people can do is use a reusable cup.

What should we do?

Avoid waste by:

  • Drinking from a reusable cup.
  • Ordering in or bring your own mug.
  • Refusing a lid if you don’t need it.
  • Never using polystyrene foam cups as they are not recyclable in the ACT.

If you want to find out more about recycling visit the website and book a tour.

1 “Takeaway coffee cups piling up in landfill as Australia's caffeine habit soars” by Sarah Whyte Updated 24 Oct 2016.
2 National Litter Index Keep Australia Beautiful 2014-2015.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

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