Coffee giants under pressure to boost recycling of cups

Paper cups have come under the spotlight with chef and anti-waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whttingstall claiming coffee chains aren’t doing enough to recycle.

Paper cups recycled

He claimed that the cups are “barely recyclable at all” and “can’t be recycled through any of the normal public waste collection services, who are consistently diverting them to be incinerated or sent to landfill”. He also claimed that Starbucks and Costa were misleading consumers over the green credentials of their cups.

Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign, which will feature in the next episode of his series Hugh’s War on Waste, follows on from news that McDonald’s, James Cropper and Simply Cups have linked up to recycle paper cups.

It’s estimated that around 2.5 billion paper cups are used in the UK each year but most are not recycled among household waste and cup collection has proved to be problematic. In addition, the cups are polyethylene-coated; Simply Cups is currently the only company that recycles plastic-lined cups.

FPA executive director Martin Kersh said: “I think it highlights that paper cups are recyclable but not enough are being recycled. If something positive can come out of this campaign then it would be to give the process a push.

“Simply Cups have done a fantastic job and it needs more publicity. When cups are recycled you get a phenomenally good material. James Cropper have made a big investment – the numbers must make sense.

“However, on this issue there has been a lack of facilities and funding. Why can’t PRN money be used? Also, there is a lack of consistency from local authorities.”

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