Costa Coffee launches in-store cup recycling scheme

The UK's largest coffee chain Costa Coffee is to launch a recycling scheme in all of its stores to ensure that as many as possible of its own takeaway cups - and those from its competitors - are recycled.

In a move designed to reduce the millions of used disposable cups that end up in landfill, the chain’s customers will be encouraged to leave or return them to a Costa store, where they will be stored on a bespoke rack. Costa’s waste partner, Veolia, will transport them to specialist waste processing plants which have the capacity to recycle takeaway coffee cups – potentially as many as 30m a year from Costa alone.

Following a successful trial in more than 45 stores across London and Manchester, Costa is rolling out the recycling racks in all 2,000-plus stores at the end of January with a clear message that “we recycle any paper takeaway cup, no matter what brand”.

It was revealed earlier this year that only 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK because they are made of a difficult-to-recycle mix of paper and plastic. That prompted calls for a charge on takeaway cups by prominent figures including chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“As the UK’s largest coffee shop brand, we want to make it as easy as possible for the public to recycle their used coffee cups,” said Jason Cotta, the managing director of Costa UK and Ireland. “Our research in Manchester and London shows around 40 cups per day are left in stores, which means we have the potential to recycle 30m Costa cups a year. What’s more, the fact that we will accept competitors’ cups means we could significantly increase that figure.”

Costa is funding research at Sheffield University into cup recyclability and currently donates 25p to litter charities every time a customer uses a reusable cup in a Costa store.

“We are committed to taking a lead and, like many others, we are working hard to find a cup that can be recycled anywhere,” Cotta continued. “Whilst there is more work to do in partnership with the wider industry, we are excited to see the impact our new in-store recycling offer will have and hope it is embraced by everyone – by our customers and by those who buy their coffee elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Starbucks is trialling a fully recyclable coffee cup – the Frugalpac – which could eventually divert huge numbers of cups away from landfill. And environmental charity Hubbub is facilitating the trial of a paper cup recycling bin scheme in Manchester, supported by McDonald’s, Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero, Pret a Manger, KFC, Greggs and Nestlé.

Rebecca Smithers

This article first appeared in the Guardian

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