Veolia rolls out national in-store coffee cup recycling scheme

Waste management firm Veolia has today (19 June) launched the national rollout of an in-store coffee cup recycling scheme for its customers, as research shows the UK public is overwhelmingly behind efforts to tackle the issue.

Specialist designed recycling bins, available for new and existing Veolia customers, will help with the emptying, stacking and collection of paper cups to be sent for recycling. The UK-wide rollout follows the launch of trials with coffee retailers such as Costa and Starbucks at the back end of last year.

The packaged deal will also offer a bulk collection option and post-back service to all businesses types. This comes as the latest YouGov survey shows that 88% of the public would use a purpose-built bin to ensure their disposable paper cups is recycled.

Veolia UK & Ireland senior executive vice president Estelle Brachlianoff commented: “Over the last six months a lot of activities have been taking place with our customers, such as Costa and Starbucks to overcome our biggest challenge – contamination in the cups.

“As a result, we’ve worked on a solution that will separate the cup from the general waste stream as soon as the customer has enjoyed their drink – and we’re thrilled to see so much public support for cup recycling.”

In the loop

Once the used cups have been stored upside down to ensure they are free from contamination, they are baled up ready for treatment at paper pulping facilities, which recover the fibre and separate the polymer plastic liner from the cup. The cups are pulped and eventually turned into moulded fibre products such as coffee cup holders and egg boxes, completing the circular economy process.

Research suggests that the UK public are on board with the initiative. Almost half of the public would be willing to hold onto their cup for longer if they knew they would pass a purpose-built bin, according to the YouGov poll of 2,000 British adults.

And with 52% of regular takeaway hot drink consumers citing the office as a cup disposal location, and 40% citing ‘on-the-go’ locations such as train and service stations, Veolia is calling for more businesses to get on-board with the tackling the coffee cup conundrum.

Brachlianoff continued: “Coffee cup recycling is now happening across the country but I’d like to take this opportunity to further encourage a mass collaboration between designers, manufacturers, vendors and consumers as we all have a part to play in making all of our packaging more environmentally friendly and ensuring our resources are kept in the loop for longer.”

Coffee cup challenge

Every day in the UK, up to seven million coffee cups are thrown away, with less than 1% of these cups (only 1 in 400 coffee cups) thought to be recycled. The main challenge to date has been the plastic film lining the paper cups, which means they are rarely recyclable.

A joint campaign coordinated by major coffee retailer such as Caffé Nero, Costa and Starbucks in the London Square Mile managed to recycle half a million coffee cups in the capital in one month. The recycling methods used for the Square Mile Challenge process the cups to create either a plastic or recovered fibre material which is made into new products.

Earlier this year, edie reported on a new initiative at the Canary Wharf estate which has seen the property, retail and waste management sectors come together to recycle and re-use coffee cups.

George Ogleby

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