Starbucks follows Costa with in-store coffee cup recycling bins

Coffee giant Starbucks has announced the launch of a new in-store paper cup recycling bin aimed at encouraging customers to return take-way cups back into the store and boost overall recycling levels.

Set to be rolled-out January 2017 across 21 stores in Central and West London, the new recycling bins will help with the emptying, stacking and collection of paper cups to be sent for recycling. The new bins will act as an in-house waste collection system and also invites customers with take-away cups to discard them when passing the stores.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of rival coffee shop chain Costa Coffee, which has this week revealed that it is to roll out a paper cup recycling scheme in all of its stores, following successful trials in Manchester and London earlier this year.

Starbucks Europe’s vice president of communications Simon Redfern said: “This is a complex but important issue across the industry. While we continue to test new paper cup innovations that meet our safety standards, we can address this issue in two ways; reducing the number of paper cups used by offering our long-standing 25p reusable cup discount incentive and finding new ways to help customers recycle their paper cups.

“Our message to customers is: please bring in your reusable cup and enjoy a 25p discount – or if you’re enjoying a coffee in a paper cup in Central and West London please bring it into our stores and help us test our new cup bins because the more you support these initiatives, the more we’ll learn.”

War on Waste

The launch of the 21 recycling bins will follow on from successful back-of-house trials that Starbucks had been running along with waste management providers Veolia, which originally started last Spring. The new rollout will also apply to any paper coffee cups from other coffee shops.

Starbucks already offers various recycling initiatives in regards to paper cups, offering a ‘post-back’ cup recycling scheme with Veolia, as well as trialing a 50p discount for customers that bring their own cups. The firm introduced these measures soon after celebrity TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called on high street coffee shops to do more to tackle the issue that only one in 400 coffee cups are being recycled in the UK.

The issue has largely revolved around the composition of the paper cups, which are sealed with a polyethylene (plastic) lining on the interior. Starbucks has since trialled a fully-recyclable cup developed by packaging company FrugalPac.

Commenting on the announcement, the British Coffee Association’s executive director Chris Stemman said: “Paper coffee cups and the issue of being able to recycle them is a primary focus for the UK coffee industry. There are a number of different approaches that have been looked at and undertaken by the industry including new materials for cups, new waste collection streams, and encouraging consumers to proactively recycle these materials. The latest moves from both Starbucks and Costa are a big step forward for sustainability in the UK coffee industry.”

Writing in an exclusive blog for edie this week, Peter Goodwin, the co-founder of coffee cup recycling business Simply Cups, claimed that coffee shops should be doing more to tackle this circular economy challenge. “If business wants to recycle cups they need to put some effort into segregating the material at source and invest in a proven solution, which will offer them an immediate return,” Goodwin wrote.

Matt Mace

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