Councils pressure coffee chains to introduce recyclable cups

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Councils pressure coffee chains to introduce recyclable cups

Related tags: Recycling

High street coffee chains must take urgent action to develop recyclable paper cups to reduce the burden on councils.

That’s according to The Local Government Association (LGA), which wants giants such as Costa, Starbucks and Café Nero to do more to reduce the 2.5bn paper cups that are thrown away in the UK each year.

Most coffee cups have a plastic coating which must be separated from the paper before recycling, which ordinary processing plants are unable to do.

This means the vast majority of cups end up going to landfill, creating an estimated 25,000 tonnes of waste.

Councils already work with orange juice carton manufacturers to develop systems for collecting and recycling empty cartons, and now they want coffee chains to do the same.

Cllr Peter Box, the LGA's Environment spokesman, said: "Recycling has been a real success story for councils and residents, and rates have quadrupled in the last decade. It's extremely frustrating that this hard work is being damaged by a lack of recyclable paper cups.”

Making progress

It was announced last week that Starbucks is planning to trial its first fully recyclable cup in selected UK stores.

The Frugalpac cup, which launched on Thursday, has a thin film liner which easily separates from the paper in the recycling process.

Engineer Martin Myerscough, who created the cup, told The Guardian​ he is ‘in talks’ with other coffee chains and supermarkets about using the cup as their standard product.

But the LGA warned that the sector must go ‘further and faster’ in developing recyclable cups, with councils currently spending £3.3bn a year on recycling, collecting and disposing of waste.

“The industry has recently shown signs of heading in the right direction on this issue – but it needs to…demonstrate positive and immediate action in developing recyclable cups,” said Box.

"Retailers, manufacturers and caterers must be doing more to bring down the 23m tonnes of waste generated each year."

A Starbucks spokesman told The Guardian it was 'very interested' in the Frugalpac cup​ and was currently testing its safety and quality standards.

Coffee chains have previously come under fire for using a recycling symbol on their existing  cups, despite campaigners warning that they are ‘virtually impossible’ to recycle with their current design.

The Government rejected calls for a ‘plastic bag-style’ tax on the cups earlier this year after figures showed that just one in 400 were recycled each year.

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Restaurant

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