Controversial Coffee Cup Trend Sparks Heated Debate


A photograph of customers in a London High Street café has sparked controversy over the trend of drinking coffee from takeaway cups. The photo was taken by environmental entrepreneur James Atkins, who observed the behavior and became frustrated by the unnecessary waste created by single-use coffee cups. He shared his frustration on LinkedIn, sparking a heated debate.

Around half a trillion coffee cups are created every year, and less than one per cent are recycled. Most cups are coated with a plastic lining, which is difficult to separate from the paper outside, meaning the easiest option is to send them to landfill where they can take decades to degrade. While some respondents shared Atkins’ environmental concerns about single-use cups, many sought to justify the behavior. Some believed it was a hygiene issue, while others suggested it was just mainly our “on the go” culture today and the convenience of “to go” cups.

Many coffee lovers are opting for single-use cups because it is cheaper and there’s a cost-of-living crisis impacting the city. In Britain, dining in results in a 25% value-added tax (VAT) being attached to your bill. A simple hack to avoid the tax is to order it from a take-away cup and then sit down. In most cities single-use coffee cups can’t be recycled because they are lined in plastic.

Atkins believes that the trend is not just a British one, and several other reasons customers are dining in with takeaway cups include keeping their coffee warmer for longer, concerns about sanitation, and the psychological reason diners are opting for single-use. He also suspects that people are drinking from take-away cups because people are always in a rush, as they can take the time to sit down, enjoy coffee, and chill out a little bit.

Atkins also suspects that sitting with a coffee cup at a table makes the drinker look busy and important, like they might need to jump up and leave at a moment’s notice. He suspects some people like to feel busy, and they might have to quickly jump up and leave for their next business meeting.

Atkins is the founder of several environmental groups including Planet League and Football for Forests.

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Source: Coffee Talk

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