A Vancouver group thinks it may have a solution to the problem of litter and waste caused by the 1.6 billion disposal coffee cups that get thrown out in Canada every year.

Anna Godefroy of the Binners Project, a group that picks up recyclables and returns them for cash, believes coffee drinkers should be charged a cup recycling fee every time they purchase a latte or double-double in a paper cup. The scheme would work exactly the same way as it does for cans and bottles.

 "We're thinking for coffee cups it could be five or ten cents," says Godefroy. "It would help reduce waste and also invites people to think twice before ordering a coffee to go."

Lindsay Coulter of the Suzuki Foundation agrees the plan could be a way to get people out of the paper cup habit.

"It's supposed to be reduce use, then reuse, then recycle," said Coulter, adding that just because you can put paper cups in your blue bin, doesn't mean they're not ending up in the landfill. 

In 2014 the Binners Project staged a one-day public event called "The Coffee Cup Revolution," offering a nickle for every disposable cup that was turned in. In a five-hour span, 45,000 cups were collected.

Paul Henderson, Metro Vancouver's manager for solid waste, says that paper cup usage around Vancouver needs to be reduced.        

"We'd like to see less cups used around the region," Henderson told CBC.

If Vancouver were to adopt the paper cup recycling fee scheme, it would be the first jurisdiction in the world to do so.


  • An earlier version of this story said 55,000 cups were collected in a five-hour span in 2014. In fact, 45,000 cups were collected.
    Oct 30, 2015 6:41 PM PT
With files from Deborah Goble