Coffee cups

Disposable coffee cups are not recyclable at University of Melbourne campuses, so put yours in the red landfill bin. This is because they contain a plastic inner layer which is too difficult to separate from the paper cup during the recycling process.

Make the change to reusable cups

It is estimated Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That's approximately 2,700,000 paper coffee cups thrown out every day!

There are a few ways you can say no to disposable coffee cups to stop waste at the source:

  • bring your own reusable cup
  • choose to dine in
  • pick up a Choose to Reuse mug if you’re on the Parkville campus.

Reusable cups can continue to be used during the COVID-19 crisis by following basic hygiene rules—there has been no government advice against doing so.

Make sure you wash yours thoroughly with detergent and hot water (by hand or in the dishwasher), only hand over a clean and dry cup, and remember to hold onto your lid.

Order a Keep Cup

Staff can order a University of Melbourne branded Keep Cup to get a great discount.

Over a year, use of a Keep Cup reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 92% compared to disposable cups.

The Keep Cup brand of reusable coffee cups is our preferred choice:

  • Compared to ceramic mugs, Keep Cups take less energy to produce and are light weight and durable so can be easily carried around with you.
  • The cups are designed and manufactured in Australia so are supporting local industry and have lower carbon miles.
  • If you own a plastic keep cup, the cup can be recycled at the end of its life.

Place an order

Two women are sitting down laughing at each other with two different types of reusable coffee cups in their hands.The woman on the right side is holding a clear cup with royal blue lid printed with the University of Melbourne logo on the side.

Biodegradable and compostable cups

If your café stocks 'compostable' or 'biodegradable' cups, keep in mind that most of these need to be processed through commercial composting facilities in order for them to break down.

Some can be composted at home, but we can't process them through food organics buckets or compost bins on campus.

In addition to this, plastic 'biodegradable' coffee cups are often made from special materials which cannot be processed through mixed recycling streams.

So any compostable cups brought onto campus must also go in the red landfill bin.

The best option is always a reusable option.

Coffee pods

Melbourne is the home of good coffee in Australia. So why are you still throwing away coffee pods? Make the greenest choice and take your own cup to a café, or purchase a coffee machine where beans are used in bulk.

The problem with pods

Australians consume around 3 million single-serve coffee pods every single day and they are too small to be sorted correctly in the current recycling system. Millions of kilograms of aluminium and plastic have ended up in landfills since coffee pods came onto the market. Aluminium’s production is energy-intensive, and thus the material should be reused or recycled whenever possible.

Some eco-friendly alternatives to single use pods if you have a Nespresso® machine are the reuseable capsules manufactured by WayCap, Bluecup and SealPod. These and other sustainable coffee machine accessories can be found at Crema Joe.

Still hooked on pods?

If you already have a machine that uses pods, then recycle coffee pods rather than throwing them in the waste. You can recycle pods at:

  • The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences has organised for a Nespresso bulk recycling/collection bin in the kitchen on Level 2 Alan Gilbert Building (location map).
  • Pod collection by a company called TerraCycle, whose mission is to divert hard-to-recycle waste from landfills.
  • Nespresso also sells pre-paid Australia Post satchels consumers can send back to the company for recycling, with up to 130 capsules at a time.

Fair trade

The University supports and promotes fair trade products on campus as highlighted by University Chancellery Executive approving a move to 100% Fairtrade kitchen consumables

Source sustainably