More research into where compostable takeaway cups and lids can be composted
A group set up to promote package recycling is commissioning research into disposable cups in New Zealand with the aim of helping consumers better understand where to throw away their cups.
Disposable coffee cups are commonly misunderstood to be recyclable, where in reality most are lined with plastic that must be separated from the cup in order to be recycled.
The complexity and cost of the process consigned most cups to the landfill.
The Packaging Forum has commissioned an analysis of disposable cups in New Zealand for a new study on where compostable cups and lids can be composted.
The Packaging Forum spokeswoman Lyn Mayes said many New Zealand cafes and businesses have moved away from plastic-lined paper cups to those which were compostable if sent to a commercial composting facility.
"There is, however, confusion about how consumers actually know what type of cup they have and how and where they should dispose of it.
"Compostable cups and lids are made of different materials and how they break down in a compost facility and how long it takes is dependent upon the process."
Beyond the Bin, which was aiming to get 80 per cent of all events to be composting event waste, will conduct the research.
Director Kim Renshaw said it had started work on identifying the composition of cups and lids and how they have been certified.
This provided information required by compost facilities to verify compatible materials.
Renshaw said she expected a guide to cup manufacturers about where their products could be processed to be published this summer.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Recyclable: Most end up in landfills. Clean lids can be recycled if removed from the cup, as they are plastic.
Compostable: These cups are meant to break down for use in compost when exposed to high temperatures or UV light. However, most are still sent to landfills.
Biodegradable: This usually involves adding an oil-based plastic lining which breaks down when deprived of oxygen, but questions remain over the science.