Costa and McDonald’s team up for coffee cup recycling at 30 motorway service stations

Image: Costa Coffee

The 30 service stations will collectively host 65 recycling points. At these points, customers will be able to separate cups, lids and leftover drinks. The cups will then be sent back through Costa Coffee’s stores, to specialist recycling facilities.

Most coffee cups sold in the UK are multi-layer and multi-material, containing plastics as well as fibre-based materials. This makes them challenging to mechanically recycle and, as such, most UK councils do not collect them in dry mixed recycling collections from households. The specialist recycler for Costa, the coffee chain claims, can convert used cups into materials that can create reusable cups or new paper packaging.

Roadchef records more than 50 million visitors to its UK service stations every year, making the opportunity for coffee cup collection significant. McDonald’s UK already hosts recycling bins with cup sections in all large stores, with more than 1,100 recycling units for coffee cups installed. Costa has also been rolling out in-store collection points at stores outside of service stations in the past.

“We are committed to making it even easier for on-the-go consumers to give their cups a second life, and this is the next step on that journey,” said McDonald’s UK’s senior sustainability consultant Helen McFarlane. “We hope that, by putting these highly visible bins in some of our most visited locations we can get the message out there that coffee cups can be recycled, and we will continue to encourage people to return their cups to our restaurants across the country.”

It is worth noting that both Costa and McDonald’s UK are looking to scale cup reuse as well as recycling disposable cups.

Costa commitment

Costa Coffee’s sustainability lead Laurence Webb added that the findings from the Roadchef partnership will be assessed so the business can “further optimise and boost recycling across the country”.

The coffee chain pledged, in 2018, to help enable the recycling of up to 500 million coffee cups annually by 2020. It subsequently launched the National Cup Recycling Scheme, which has expanded to receive co-support from Mcdonald’s, Caffé Nero, Pret A Manager, Greggs, Burger King, Pure and Lavazza Professional. Under the scheme, waste collectors are incentivised to collect cups with an extra payment of £70 additionally per tonne.

When Costa Announced the 500 million cup commitment, it was still owned by Whitbread and had not yet been acquired by The Coca-Cola Company. This change, as well as the pandemic, may have impacted progress. edie has asked for an update on the commitment.

More recently, Costa Coffee launched a trial of 100% fibre, recyclable lids at Costa Express machines. They will be rolled out across 150 stores this summer.

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