Disposable cups
Photo: Chernetskaya/Dreamstime

Study shows Japan generated over 369 million disposable coffee cups in 2020

That’s equivalent to 60,000 Tokyo Skytrees if the cups were stacked

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

Have you ever thought about the number of disposable coffee cups we use in a year? The reality is incredibly shocking. While there have been some efforts to help reduce waste like Starbucks Japan’s reusable mug service, an estimated 369.5 million disposable cups were still being used in 2020 by major coffee chains in Japan. That's roughly equivalent to one million paper and plastic cups per day. 

The numbers were unveiled in a recent study by Greenpeace Japan, an environmental conservation group confronting global environmental problems. The study surveyed disposable cup usage at nine major coffee chains in Japan: Starbucks Coffee Japan, Tully's Coffee, Pronto, Doutor, Caffe Veloce, Excelsior Caffe, Ueshima Coffee House, Cafe de Crie and Komeda’s Coffee.

Can you imagine what 369,500,000 disposable cups look like? According to the report, this massive amount would weigh over 2,808 tonnes, and equate to roughly 60,000 Tokyo Skytrees if the cups were stacked.

Disposable plastic and paper cups not only pollute city streets and the sea, they are also difficult to recycle, meaning most of them just end up being incinerated after a single use. To help tackle this issue, Greenpeace Japan has set up an online petition to ask three major coffee chains – Starbucks, Tully's Coffee and Pronto – to serve coffee in an eco-friendly way that will use less disposable cups. 

The petition presents three main requests to these coffee chains: understand the amount of waste generated and set realistic waste reduction targets, use mugs and glasses in store, and encourage more people to bring in their own cups for takeaway drinks or introduce returnable reusable cups.

According to the study, if all nine chains were to start serving drinks in reusable mugs and glasses, it could potentially reduce the number of disposable cups used per year to 158.6 million, a massive improvement from the current figure. 

You can sign the Greenpeace petition here.

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