Reusable coffee cups have quickly become the must-have item of choice for people who are as caffeine-conscious as they are eco-aware. But which brand is the most eco-friendly option? We took a closer like.
Much like plastic bottles, the fear of being seen with a disposable coffee cup in hand is enough to make even the most caffeine-addicted of us forgo our morning flat white. Fortunately, the reusable coffee cup has become the coolest fashion accessory out there, with the market now overwhelmed with cups in every shade, shape and size.
In the UK alone, 2.5 billion unrecyclable coffee cups are thrown away every year, many of them being carelessly discarded – and if a plastic lined cup is put in a bin of recyclable rubbish, it can contaminate the entire load. But as reusable alternatives gain popularity, with conferences and coffee shops handing them out to encourage sustainability, there is a chance that these too could become over-consumed. According to Plastic Education, nearly 15,000 kj/cup is require to produce just one ceramic coffee mug, and the energy-intensive production of reusable alternatives could similarly come under criticism.
So what happens when the means in which we can tackle single-use waste become another (albeit accidental) cause for over consumption? Factoring in the material used to make your cup can help to improve its efficiency and energy per use, with glass and plastic reusables requiring significantly less energy to manufacture than ceramic. Most importantly, using your cup over and over until the bitter, worn-out end will ensure your purchase is as sustainable as possible, with it only requiring 20 uses of your reusable to be more energy efficient than a throw away paper cup.
After learning that only 0.25% of disposable cups are recycled, ashortwalk‘s award-winning design team developed a reusable cup that not only eliminates the need for single-use cups and bottles but makes use of waste materials, contributing to the circular economy too. Made from single-use coffee cups, rCUP designs’s are heavily insulated to keep drinks both hot and cold with an easy to open and close lid. At the end of their life the cups can be recycled and made into the next generation of products too.
Huskee Cup, £13
Huskee Cups have that scandi-minimal aesthetic that will make your oat latte perfect for Instagram. Made from coffee husks, the organic waste material produced at the milling stage of coffee production, using your Huskee cup will help to eliminate plastic waste as well as tonnes of waste material from the production of coffee.
Frank Green, from £22.99
Stylish and innovative, Frank Green is one of the most well-known reusable coffee cup brands out there. Made from stainless steel, it is a great alternative for those looking to cut down on plastic and single-use items. The cup is durably designed and has the insultation of a thermos. In fact, using one of these stylish cups as little as15 times will begin to offset the environmental impact of manufacturing the product itself.
Ecoffee Cup, from £7.95
Ecoffee Cup has been at the forefront of the re-use generation ever since it was founded in London in 2014 in response to the huge amount of waste created by single-use coffee cups. Made with upcycled natural fibre, cornstarch and proprietary plant-based resin; the colourful on-the-go coffee cups are BPA, BPS and phthalate-free. The lid and sleeve are made with matte, food-grade silicone which is latex-free and contains no animal or animal-derived ingredients. Designed for durability, the entire product is dishwasher and microwave-safe, and spare parts are readily available should you lose any. And although your Ecoffee Cup should last for years if treated respectfully, when it does reach the end of its life, Ecoffee Cup provides a Closed Loop scheme that allows consumers in the UK, Europe and US to return all components, free of charge.
KeepCup, glass options from £14
Designing a strong and responsible supply chain has always been key to KeepCup to allow the company to reduce waste and energy consumption across the entire business. KeepCup transparently communicates its business operations; in 2018, Edge Environmental assessed the environmental footprint of its products against single-use alternatives. Cork is one of the main components of a KeepCup coffee cup – a material that is natural, renewable and biodegradable, it’s also upcycled from the waste by-product of wine corks.
When Huskup’s founder Richard Milton recognised the demand for reusable cups, he was concerned with how demand for these products could result in even more plastic use. As a result, Huskup cups are made from rice husk which would otherwise be incinerated. With no plastic in sight, the products are fully biodegradable at the end of life. Huskup teams up with independent designers who share similar environmental principles to make its cup designs as exciting and as loveable as possible.
Klean Kanteen, from £13.00
Community is at the heart of Klean Kanteen and it makes sure to give back to support its roots in Chico, by donating to local organisations, providing Klean Kanteen water stations with free, filtered water stations and staff are given 24 hours of volunteer time annually to support non-profits in the community. Backed by the lifetime Strong as Steel guarantee, Klean Kamteen looks to reduce environmental impact by making products that last.
Stojo, from £12
Stojo put a strong emphasis on progressive manufacturing and giving back to the planet. Its collapsible coffee cups are made in factories that meet the BSCI Code of Conduct that focuses on employee rights, safety and environmental regulations. The company also commits to donating 1% of annual revenue to environmentally-focused non-profits such as Lonely Whale. The cups themselves squish down so they easy to travel with and remain completely leak proof in transit.
Chilly’s may be better known for its reusable water bottles but it makes equally as stylish coffee cups too. The brand’s aim is to create products that balance style and performance, fitting in to the lives of the busy and active. The coffee cups are compact and double-walled, meaning your drinks will be kept at your temperature of choice until you have a time to sit and enjoy. Note that the cups aren’t a fully sealed container, so work best for office coffee runs or strolls in the park.