Bioplastic coffee cup developed that is fully recyclable


Biome Bioplastics is aiming to help slash coffee cup waste with its world-first plastics for takeaway beverage cups, made from plant-based sources.

Never before have such bioplastic materials for disposable cups and lids been made that are fully compostable and recyclable, while still performing like petroleum-based plastic under heat and stress.


Market research has shown most consumers want their takeaway coffee cups to be sustainable, more than half agree that current options come at too much of an environmental cost and a third would avoid buying products using takeaway cups because of this.

The British bioplastics manufacturer has unveiled a range of bio-based plastics for cups and lids to enable retailers and packaging manufacturers to offer consumers a more sustainable option.

Biome Bioplastics chief executive Paul Mines said: “For such a simple product, disposing of a single coffee cup is a very complex problem. Coffee drinkers are acting in good faith when they see recycling logos on their takeaway coffees but most cups are lined with oil-based plastic and the lids made of polystyrene making recycling impossible, even when placed in the right bin.

“We need to also question how much fossil fuels go into coffee cups, given the reliance on petroleum-based plastic. When 2.5 billion takeaway cups are thrown away each year, and less than one per cent are recycled, each cup adds up.”

For the last five years, Biome Bioplastics has developed a range of biopolymers for coffee cups, lids and coffee pods based on natural and renewable resources including plant starches and tree by-products such as cellulose.

“Our solution is making biopolymers that can be made into fully biodegradable coffee cup and lid combinations. The result being a bio-based takeaway cup disposable either in a paper recycling stream or food waste stream.

“In appropriate composting conditions our cups and lids will disappear to carbon dioxide and water within three months.”

Market research conducted for Biome Bioplastics by consumer insight company Vision One revealed:

  • Almost two thirds of people would prefer cup lids to be made sustainably and 53% would be more likely to buy from shops using plant-based biodegradable cup products;
  • More than half of people thought takeaway coffee cups came at too much of a cost to the environment, and more than a third claimed they would avoid buying takeaway drinks because of this; and,
  • More than 60 per cent of people thought plant-based biodegradable plastics were a better option than oil-based plastics.

Mr Mines said Biome was empowering forward-thinking coffee retailers with a solution to address growing consumer concern.

“There are high-tech biopolymer materials being produced here in Britain that are ready to be deployed at scale for the market. Bioplastics can now perform almost exactly like petroleum-based plastics under mechanical stress and at boiling temperatures.”

“The shocking amount of landfill waste shows the urgent need for big brands to accelerate work in new, sustainable materials such as bioplastics. High street retailers can now give consumers what they want: a sustainable takeaway cup option that can either be properly recycled or composted.”