The short answer is that it depends on the material the cups and plates are made of, and even what shape they are.
Marcella Cheng/The Conversation
Have you ever been told not to put metal in the microwave? Edie, age 8, wants to know why.
Think of what your clothes are doing to the planet.
Joe Giddens/PA Archive
Water pollution, toxic chemical use and textile waste: fast fashion comes at a huge cost to the environment.
Imported laptop housings, Guiyu, China.
Basel Action Network
China, which recycles much of the world's waste material, is slashing its scrap imports. This move could force the United States and Europe to boost recycling instead of shipping trash overseas.
An incredibly sad scene.
The impact of plastic on the ocean is heartbreaking but the science must be watertight to convince everyone that we need to change.
Plastic pollution: discarded plastic bags are a hazard to marine life.
Tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year, but a switch away from petroleum-based products to bio-derived and degradable composites could lessen marine pollution.
Everyone knows that plastic waste is an environmental problem. So let's get creative with it.
What will we do for bin liners now?
AAP Image/James Ross
Banning single-use plastic bags makes sense, as long as it doesn't usher in behaviours that are just as bad, or worse – like over-using heavier bags made of even more plastic.
The same beach on Henderson Island, in 1992 and 2015.
After making worldwide headlines with the story of the Pacific "garbage island", researchers were sent a photo of the same beach, white sand free of litter, as recently as 1992.
Your recycling doesn’t have to be sparkling clean.
Many people are confused about what they can and can't recycle, and whether they need to clean everything before it goes in the bin. The best plan is to check the details with your local council.
The researchers found nearly 38 million pieces of plastic rubbish on Henderson Island, in one of the remotest parts of the ocean.
Plastics pose a major threat to seabirds and other animals, and most don't ever break down - they just break up. Every piece of petrochemical-derived plastic ever made still exists on the planet.
Pollution and debris off the Sri Lankan coast.
A new documentary highlights the plight of marine animals living among the estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic rubbish generated by humans.
A family catches Mardi Gras beads during the Krewe of Thoth parade down St. Charles Avenue in 2000.
Each Mardi Gras, 25 million pounds of beads hit the streets of New Orleans. One researcher went to the Chinese factories that make them – and spoke to the workers who believe the beads will be given to royalty.
Microplastics can carry other pollutants.
Oregon State University/Flickr
Up to 236,000 tonnes of microplastic enter our oceans each year.
Many seabird species, including the blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea), consume plastic at sea because algae on the plastic produce an odor that resembles their food sources.
Thousands of seabirds die every year from consuming plastic trash in the oceans. But why do they eat plastic? New research shows that it produces odors that help some species find prey.
Around 94% of litter on South African beaches is made of plastic, of which 77% is packaging.
Waste plastic affects marine life significantly but better education and recyclable plastics could go a long way in resolving this issue.
You need the right one for the job.
From non-Newtownian fluids, to hydrophobic starch, to plasticisation - various flours can do amazing things. But you must choose the right one for the job!
What’s in your water bottle?
Manufacturers have removed the industrial chemical BPA from many products over concerns that it mimics hormones in the body. Now studies show that BPS, a popular substitute, has similar effects.
Scientists have discovered the first easy-to-grow bacteria that can break down plastics.
Microplastics sample collected in a plankton net trawl in the North Pacific subtropical gyre from the SSV Robert C Seamans.
Giora Proskurowski/Sea Education Association
New method tallies microplastics in southern oceans, yielding a total that's 37 times higher than previous estimates.
Plastics are vital. Making them from anything other than oil is good; using waste products is even better.