CA State University San Marcos clarifies recycling rules for Starbucks cups, Charlotte rules clear, Greensboro needs to inform citizens

” We continue to expand our front-of-house recycling with programs in 18 markets, helping us toward our goal to provide all of our customers access to cup recycling by 2015.” Starbucks, Year in Review: Fiscal 2011

From California State University San Marcos, “Recycle this, not that”.

“While recycling is one of the University’s most visible practices, it’s not necessarily the most instinctive when it comes to determining if an item is recyclable. Subject to the policies and practices of local waste haulers, standards for recycling can vary. To take the guesswork out of recycling at CSUSM, here is a guide on Recycle This, Not That.

Recycle This: Plastic Cups
Recycle This: Among the most recognizable recyclables are plastic cups, lids, straws, aluminum cans and glass bottles. In 2010, the campus recycled more than 20 tons of these items combined. The EPA reports that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours. In contrast, a can thrown into the landfill will remain unchanged for more than 500 years.


Not That: Paper Cups
Not That: When it comes to cases of mistaken identity, the biggest offender placed in recycling bins that is in fact not recyclable is the paper cup. Paper cups, like the Starbucks coffee cup, are coated with a thin wax to keep liquids from seeping through the paper fibers, making it unrecyclable. Consider limiting your environmental impact, and save a few cents too, by bringing a reusable mug when purchasing hot beverages from Starbucks, the Coffee Cart or Big Cat Market.


Recycle This: Cardboard
Recycle This: Corrugated cardboard makes up more than one third of the total weight of recyclables at CSUSM each year. One of the most overlooked pieces of cardboard placed in the trash is the heat band used on coffee cups. Before discarding your hot beverage, be sure to recycle the sleeve.


Not That: Styrofoam
Not That: Not sold at the University but a common item brought onto campus from local eateries, Styrofoam (also known as polystyrene) cannot be recycled by CSUSM’s waste hauler, EDCO Disposal Services. While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available in a handful of regions nationwide, most Styrofoam ends up in the landfill. In fact, every year Americans throw away nearly 25 billion Styrofoam cups.”


From the Charlotte NC website:

Cup (paper)

image of Cup (paper)


Put this item in your garbage.


Special Instructions

Put plastic lids in your recycling.

I contacted the Greensboro, NC recycling this morning asking about their processing of Starbucks and other coffee shop cups.
I got this response:
“I just received your voicemail regarding the recyclability of coffee cups, e.g. Starbucks cups. Unfortunately this type of material is not accepted in Greensboro’s recycling program. The cups are actually made up of layers of paper and polyethylene plastic, and while it is not technically impossible to separate these layers, the paper quality is too low (paper fibers are too short) for paper mills to invest the effort in recycling them. Interestingly (at least to a recycling nerd like me), cartons such as milk and orange juice cartons are made in a similar way but with much higher quality paper, which is why they are accepted in our program.”
I have seen nothing in Greensboro recycling information that states that Starbucks or other coffee shop cups are not recycled.
I would bet that most people are unaware that when they buy coffee in a paper cup and dispose of it in a recycling container that it will not be recycled.
This is wrong!
We dispose of approx. 60 billion coffee cups in this country annually.
R.E. Cycle
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