Dear Recyclebank: My church’s café gets more plastic coffee lids than cups. Any suggestions on how to recycle them? They’re starting to breed! –Barbara M.
Dear Barbara: Before you start to worry, this issue may have an easy fix! Check one of the lids for a resin identification code (the familiar number in a triangle or, sometimes, a three-arrows symbol). Many coffee lids are made from hard polystyrene, which will be labeled as #6 plastic. If your local facility accepts polystyrene, you’re good to go. That said, many lids are also made of other materials, so always check the type of plastic you have and what your hauler can accept.
If the lids your church currently orders are not recyclable in your area, consider sourcing from a different provider. If you have a compost facility nearby, biodegradable coffee lids — available from vendors such as Eco-Products and StalkMarket — are an excellent way to make your church’s café a bit greener. Speak with the relevant committee or officials about changing your supplier, or if lids are donated, ask your congregation to buy mindfully. You also might suggest using reusable coffee mugs for beverages that stay within the café, so you can order fewer single-use lids (and cups) overall.
Needless to say, coffee lids have a long shelf life, so the lids you already have can simply be stored until they’re used up. Maybe cancel a lid order here and there to give your café-goers a chance to catch up, or ask your donors to hold off for a while. If you simply don’t have the space to hold the lids anymore, you might consider donating them to a charity or homeless shelter in need. That way, the lids will go to good use and you’ll have space freed up for your more sustainable alternatives.
SOURCES: Plastics Industry Trade Association