Here’s Why Toronto Needs to Stop Putting Coffee Cups in the Blue Bin

Your empty double-doubles belong in the garbage can.

Just when you think you’re doing your part to save the planet, you find out you’ve been doing this whole recycling thing wrong. But don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has made the mistake.

According to the city of Toronto, an estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was mistakenly put into recycling bins last year alone. Cue the collective “oops”!

On Sunday, the Toronto Star reported that every day, Torontonians throw hundreds of thousands of used coffee cups into blue bins, under the assumption they are recyclable. Chucking your empty Tim Hortons coffee cups in the recycling creates issues larger than you think. The unnecessary mistake can cause workplace injuries, damage equipment, and not to mention, ruin actual recyclables in the process.

But why can’t coffee cups be recycled? Aren’t they just made of paper?

Well, because this issue is so prominent in the Toronto community, the city has just launched Bad Things Happen: a public education campaign that pinpoints why the main culprits are not designed for recycling bins. According to the website, the vast majority of paper coffee cups are lined with plastic or wax that can’t be recycled. Maybe so many of us have made the common mistake, because paper cups do have recyclable components. Most plastic lids are able to go in blue bin, unless they’re black. And the glorious paper sleeves that protect our poor little hands from burning are recyclable, as well.

Hopefully once the community is properly educated on what exactly belongs in the recycling bin, and what should be thrown into the garbage, the issues will decrease greatly.

The City of Toronto is strongly urging citizens to do their research, and take the extra effort to rid waste correctly. If you don’t have time to take a part your coffee cup to suitably dispose of it, there is always the option of plastic cups and old-school lunch thermoses.

We can do this!

(Main image courtesy Ian Sane via Flickr)