How many Disposable Coffee cups do we use every day/year?

How many Disposable Coffee cups do we use every day/year?

In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion every year.


So I was having my lunch at a cafe today, the thought struck me, what does that equate to in the terms of volume?.  As we hear 7 million, per day or 2.5 Billions per year, but what does that equate to in terms of volume e.g. what does it look like?.  After a little digging, I found that the average case of cups is 1000, and the box is approx 18″ x 15″ x 17″ or 71 x 39 x 44 cm. A 40 foot container that you see on the motorway every day internal dimensions are approx 39 foot x 7 foot 5″ x 7 foot 5″ or 12 Meters x 2.3 x 2.35m.  I am approximating here, just for some basic calculations.


Just another discarded coffee cup








Based on packing them into the container by hand and not on a pallet, you can get approx 26 x 6 x 6 configuration = 936 boxes.  The exact number is how you pack them and if they are on pallets etc.  I am only going for approx values here to illustrate a point, as I am sure there are other sizes of cups, along with lids and other disposable items on the lorry.

So the average total is 936 boxes of 100 each, so 936,000 per 40 foot arctic truck.

So we use 7 million PER DAY this means 7,000,000 Divided per 936,000 per truck and that equates to 7.2 trucks a DAY, just for the 8ox coffee cup (typical average coffee cup size)

So this 7 million per day, equates to 2.5 billions cups per year an needs transport of 7.2 trucks per day x 365 days or = 2,653 trucks just to deliver your coffee cups so you can have a drink on the way somewhere.

Not only does the Environment suffer (CO2 emissions) from a lot of these cups just being discarded anywhere, we only recycle a few percent of them (lets say less than 3% – probably much less than that my Estimate) and the rest fill up the landfills, so we use 7 Million per day and 3% of that is 210,000 are recycled (that is such a low number) or 76,650,000 of the 2,500,000,000. USED PER YEAR

Lets put this in trucks value

We need 2,653 trucks to get the cups to the store every year, but only 3% are recycled so we waste 2,573 truck journeys worth of cups per year, that just go to landfill.  So if I said lets drive these trucks straight to landfill, you would be outraged, but you are willing to allow this amount to be done every year without a whimper.



So what is the solution make any coffee house put these used cups back in their plastic sleeves they came in and then then put them back in the boxes they came in and start shipping (at their cost and not the local council) them to the recycle center.  OK I hear about the same for the cups used in various fast food places, why don’t they do the same?  Good question.  I saw a local fast food place, just clear up the rubbish from the tables and put it into a plastic bag and take it away.  No method was employed here to separate out the cups or other things.  WHY??

We as a community are failing on so many levels, why are we not doing these basic things?

I wonder if all coffee shops did this, would the facility be able to cope with the influx of cups to recycle? I doubt it.

So I hope this 25p cup tax will be added to every cup, and that money spent on new coffee cups recycling centers and not into the general government coffers.  So say this really works and we recycle 75% of all coffee cups and the 25p tax this equates to an income for the government to build and run these recycling centers of 75% of 2.5 Billion cups @25peach = £480 Million per year WOW that is such a large income figure , that will certainly build a lot of these places and could employ a lot of people. 

The question is will the 25p Tax ever go on building these centers?

So you think the UK is bad, use the above numbers and see what America does

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day or equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world. waste

Then if we start adding other countries in, the numbers are getting huge, so why is there no world solution to this epidemic???

If it was a world wide disease we would come to a solution, but it is a disease that is polluting our land, seas, river, and waterways.  So why are we doing very little to this?

This is just one area that needs to be address, there are many more, so who’s up for a 25p tax, being collected by the government to recycle these cups and run a business employing a lot of people, there is money to be made and that figure is only going to go up year on year.  Answers on a postcard to your local government please


Nomadic travel photographer, Have camera will travel and currently in Asia for 5 months and next stop South America Month 6 onwards of 2017.

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