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Are Starbucks Cups Recyclable?

StarbucksStarbucks are everywhere.  They're on practically every street corner in San Francisco, in touristy areas of China, in some Target stores, and in some supermarkets.  Most of us have the best eco-intentions, but it's so frequent that we forget our reusable cups at home.  And so, we use the single use cups that Starbucks offers.

But, are they recyclable?  Usually not.

In most cities, there is only one place to dispose of your Starbucks cup, and that's in the garbage.  This is because the cups are made of both paper AND plastic.  Most municipalities simply don't have the setup to recycle materials like this.    

Also, because these cups contain plastic, you shouldn't compost them.  

I'm finding conflicting information about the lids and whether or not they are recyclable.  (Anybody have info on this?)

Does Starbucks recycle?

Some do, some don't.  In 2009, Starbucks introduced in-store recycling in Toronto and San Francisco.  There are also plans to introduce this to Seattle, Denver, Chicago, and Boston.  

Starbucks has teamed up with MIT to work on a plan to ensure that their cups are either reusable or recyclable by 2015.  

The plastic cups, for cold drinks, my research tells me that they ARE recyclable.  While not as green as compostable corn cups or (of course) bringing your own cup, remember to hang on to that plastic cup and recycle it at home!  You can also take the Carry Your Cup Pledge and remember to bring your own cup next time you want that caffeine fix.  

According to data from Starbucks (via Seattle Times):

MOST WASTE SYSTEMS IN NORTH AMERICA send coffee cups to landfills, including many of the 4 billion paper and plastic cups Starbucks goes through each year.  Here are a few places that recycle and compost them instead:

Recycle paper cups: Seattle; Toronto; Marin County, Calif.; Boston (commercial only); Los Angeles (commercial only)

Compost paper cups: San Francisco; Bellingham; San Mateo, Calif. (commercial only); Winnipeg, Canada (in-store only)

Recycle plastic cups: Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles