How To Compost Coffee Cups

How To Compost Coffee Cups

Every day, millions of takeaway coffee cups are used and discarded. While they've become an integral part of our daily routines, the environmental impact of their waste isn’t so great. In this guide, we dive into the world of composting coffee cups, offering up a sustainable fix for the issues brought about by disposable cups.

Understanding Coffee Cup Materials

To effectively compost coffee cups, it's essential to understand the materials they are made of. Typical coffee cups consist of paper with a plastic lining to make them waterproof, which can pose challenges in the composting process, as it doesn't readily break down. It's crucial to select biodegradable cups that are made from compostable materials - so if you’re not sure whether your local coffee shop’s cups are suitable, it’s always best to ask!

Selecting Compostable Coffee Cups

When it comes to choosing compostable coffee cups for your home or business, look for cups that meet recognised compostability standards and certifications. These cups are designed to break down into organic matter and not harm the environment during the decomposition process.

Compostable coffee cups are made from materials such as plant-based plastics (PLA) or paper lined with a compostable material, making them a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional disposable coffee cups.

Preparing Coffee Cups for Composting

Properly preparing coffee cups for composting is essential to ensure their efficient breakdown. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean and prepare coffee cups for composting:

  1. Remove Any Plastic Lids: Plastic is typically not compostable - so before composting disposable coffee cups with lids, ensure you remove the plastic lids from the cups. 
  2. Rinse the Cups: Give the cups a quick rinse to remove any remaining liquid or residue.
  3. Let Them Dry: Allow the cups to air dry completely. Moisture can hinder the composting process, so make sure they are dry before adding them to your compost bin.
  4. Shred or Tear: To expedite decomposition, you can shred or tear the cups into smaller pieces. This increases their surface area and helps microbes break them down faster.
  5. Mix with Other Compostables: Combine the shredded coffee cups with other compostable materials like food scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter in your compost pile.

Coffee Cup Composting Dont's:

  • Avoid adding coffee cups with non-compostable coatings to your compost.

  • Don't toss the cups into your compost bin if they are still wet or have a significant amount of liquid inside.

Composting Process

Composting coffee cups is part of a broader composting process that turns organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. Here's an overview of the key elements of the composting process:

  • Organic Material: Coffee cups, along with other organic waste, provide the raw materials for composting.
  • Microbes: Naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, break down the organic matter.
  • Oxygen: Proper aeration is essential for the composting process, as it allows aerobic bacteria to thrive and decompose the materials.
  • Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratio: Maintaining the right balance of carbon-rich (brown) and nitrogen-rich (green) materials is crucial for successful composting.


  • If your compost pile smells bad, it may be too wet. Add more brown materials like leaves or shredded newspaper to balance the moisture.
  • If decomposition is slow, turn the compost pile regularly to aerate it and promote microbial activity.

Benefits of Composting Coffee Cups

Composting coffee cups offers several environmental advantages over traditional disposal methods. It helps reduce landfill waste and minimises the environmental impact of non-compostable materials. By composting coffee cups, you contribute to a more sustainable future, reducing the carbon footprint associated with waste disposal.

how to compost coffee cups


Can I compost coffee cups with plastic lids?

No, plastic lids are not compostable. Remove them before composting the cups.

How long does it take for coffee cups to compost?

Composting times vary depending on conditions, but it can take several months to a year for coffee cups to fully decompose.

Can I use coffee cup compost in my garden?

Yes, once the coffee cups have composted, the resulting material can be used as a nutrient-rich soil amendment in your garden.

Embrace Sustainable Coffee Cup Disposal

Join the sustainability movement with Tripod Coffee and take a positive step towards a greener future. By gaining insights into coffee cup materials, opting for compostable choices, and following the right composting practices, you can actively contribute to a healthier planet. Join us in reducing landfill waste and fostering sustainability through coffee cup composting today.