Do compostable cups go in recycling?

Examples of compostable plastics

A coffee cup is a container used to hold that coffee that keeps you awake wherever you go. Easy, isn’t it? Actually, a coffee cup is a pretty generic concept. Therefore, when we talk about “coffee cup” in this article, we will be referring to the typical disposable cups that you get in a coffee shop when you want to take your coffee with you; and also, to the ones that are found next to any coffee machine, usually in offices, hotels, hospitals, etc.

In order to recycle them correctly, we should simply deposit them in the blue container since, as we have mentioned above, although they are made of various materials, the most common is cardboard.

Of course, a more sustainable alternative is to use our own reusable cups. Despite not being able to use them in the vending machines, there are already many cafeterias that allow you to bring your own thermos.

After depositing them in the blue container, the coffee cups are transported to the recovery plants and transferred to a container with water. As they soften, it is easier to remove the attached plastic components, also known as improper components, from the cardboard.

How to make compostable bags

In the attempt to leave plastic behind, it is easy to come across products that boast of being biodegradable and, increasingly, also compostable, but often the labels obey more to marketing criteria than to reality. The use that companies make of these two concepts not only generates confusion at the time of purchase, but also makes waste management more difficult.

Another word that is increasingly appearing on labels is “compostable”, often next to “biodegradable”. Composting is a type of biodegradation that takes place under conditions of oxygen and elevated temperature. Thus, under specific and controllable conditions, the packaging or product is degraded by the action of organisms and microorganisms into another product called “compost”, which can be used as organic fertilizer for agriculture and gardening. The composting cycle of organic matter is one of the most obvious examples of circular economy, where the waste generated is a resource that will be returned to the soil in the form of organic matter and nutrients.

Compostable bags

Nowadays we are constantly hearing about bioplastics, biodegradable plastics and compostable plastics. These types of materials have become a trend in products such as some packaging, coffee capsules and supermarket fruit and vegetable bags, but do we know what each term refers to?

The term bioplastics refers to materials from renewable and biodegradable sources, such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, lipids or those synthesized by biotechnology. There are bioplastics that come from renewable sources, but are not considered biodegradable, and bioplastics from fossil or non-renewable sources that are also biodegradable.

All of them are still plastics and are not necessarily more environmentally sustainable than those from fossil sources or those that need to be recycled once their life cycle is complete. It is necessary to know that it will always depend on the product in which they are used and their use and, above all, you should know that they must be disposed of responsibly at the end of their life and cannot be left abandoned in nature.  In fact, a bad use of this type of plastics can harm the recycling of other materials. We tell you all about it below!

Why not to use disposable cups

Important! As part of the strategy for the reduction of waste generation in Mexico City, on January 1, 2020 the prohibition to commercialize, distribute and deliver plastic bags went into effect and on January 1, 2021 the prohibition to commercialize, distribute and deliver single-use plastic products went into effect.

In view of the above, it is important to reiterate that currently there is already registration and/or authorization of some compostable plastic products in Mexico City, therefore, you are invited to consult the List of Registered Companies.

According to the Mexico City Solid Waste Law, the marketing, distribution and delivery of plastic bags to the consumer is prohibited, with the exception of compostable bags, as long as they comply with the compostability specifications (established through the environmental standards issued for this purpose). In addition, these bags (the compostable ones) must be integrated into a management plan that guarantees their adequate management and composting after their use.