Reduce takeaway coffee cups. Use a stainless steel water bottle or a plastic bottle?

Carry a reusable water bottle can reduce takeaway coffee cups.
Reusable water bottle: plastic or stainless steel?

Carrying a reusable bottle can reduce consumption of takeaway coffee cups, lids and bottled water. The material of takeaway coffee cups is paper coated with PP, plastic number 5. The Mobius loop on the paper cup also tricks us to believe that the paper cup will be recycled, but it’s actually not.

The mobius loop printed on a paper cup trick us to believe that this cup will be recycled.
The Mobius loop on the paper cup can trick us to believe this cup will be recycled 

While paper is recyclable, the quality of it is downgraded. Theoretically, paper can be recycled at most six times. However, the takeaway cup is not only paper. It is laminated with a plastic layer to protect itself from grease and liquid. To recycle a paper cup, we need to first remove this plastic lining. Unfortunately, there are so many disposable cups, and so few facilities able to separate the plastic lining. 

Takeaway cups is hard to be recycled for its multi-layer
Takeaway cup is paper lining with plastic, to prevent water and grease to soak in. To recycle a paper cup, we need to separate the plastic lining

In the UK, one year people generate 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups, just 1 out of 400 is recycled, so the recycle rate is 0.25%. Another example is in Taiwan, people generate 10 billions of multi-layer containers, including take-out food boxes, bubble tea cups and takeaway coffee cups, but only one recycling facility has the technology to separate the PP coating from paper cups. 

The lid is made with PP, too. It's a moderately accepted plastic to curbside recycling bin. Due to its complexity to be recycled, takeaway coffee cups and lids mostly end up in landfill or incinerators.

This inconvenient truth of takeaway coffee cups can be altered one day, if you and I start to carry a reusable bottle.


How to Recycle your Nespresso Pods

Reusable bottles work, but stainless steel or plastic?

Stainless steel water bottles provide thermal insulation, keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Insulated bottle lasts long. One day when you have to let go, it is also recyclable if you bring it to the scrap yard. Stainless steel is safe for any drinks, including lemonade, milk, coffee and tea. It has been said that stainless steel is not safe for acidity but it’s just a rumor. Stainless steel is an alloy of chrome. When it is in contact with oxygen, it forms a film of oxidant and protects the surface of steel from getting rusty. Acidity or any chemical in drinks can't break this film. That’s why stainless steel is safe for any drink.

Metal water bottles are more expensive and heavier. Never throw a metal water bottle in a tote bag with your phone or tablet or laptop because the bottle can easily crack the screens. When you carry a stainless steel water bottle with you, use a bag with a compartment. Always separate the metal water bottle from your phone.

Some insulated bottles are too heavy and potentially dangerous. If you have a large one and filled-up, when it falls from a table, it can crack your foot or the floor. If you carry it with you, in some cases, it may be used for self-defense.

Stainless steel water bottle is able to break your phone in a bag.

Plastic bottles

Plastic water bottle shouldn't be used for hot coffee even if it says it can tolerate more than 120 degrees Celsius, like many PP bottles say so. Plastic is not easy to recycle. Plastic has only 9% of the recycle rate in the world. Don’t assume that your country is exceptional in plastic recycling rate and your plastic water bottle will get recycled. The most common water bottle, PP plastic, is recyclable but still not many facilities and business do that. But you shouldn't keep a plastic bottle for too long. Always check the silicon ring in the cap. Oftentimes it's moldy. Replace the plastic bottle about once a year, usually the odor in the bottle that can't be cleaned is a sign. 

Pros Cons
Stainless Steel Bottle Thermal Insulated

Safe for any drinks

Easier to Recycle

Potentially a Self Defense Weapon


May crack your phone in the bag
Plastic Bottle Light

Not for hot drink

Need to be replaced once a year    

Less possible to be recycled


How to Recycle your Nespresso Pods