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The truth about recycling - coffee cups

Week 3: Coffee cups

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘War on Waste’ set off an unprecedented amount of interest in coffee cups. They made the headlines with their dubious recycling record, where it was revealed that us Brits were throwing away 2.5 billion cups a year, most of them not being recycled.

The problem is that poly-lined cups are ‘technically’ recyclable.  But in reality, there are only three facilities in the UK with the technology to recycle cups. This is because they contain a fused layer of paper and polyethylene which is hard to separate. Before now, most cups were sent to landfill or were incinerated, but the public thought they were being recycled – causing a false economy. Cups that are made with virgin material and if recycled properly, can be made back into valuable recycled products. If they aren’t recycled, the value in the materials is lost forever.

In response to this, we set up our very own coffee cup recycling scheme and were the first London facility to send coffee cups to James Cropper.

The truth about recycling - coffee cups

There are currently only three facilities in the UK that can recycle cups, one of which is James Cropper in Cumbria. We chose James Cropper as they only accept cups made from virgin paper, so they can transform them back into other high-quality products which can be recycled again – providing a truly closed loop story. Products include deluxe coffee cup paper and business cards and tubing made from the plastic element of cups.

Whilst we have a coffee cup recycling scheme, our sustainability experts always promote reduce and reuse first. Change comes from you, the consumers. Those who buy, effectively control those who sell. So if you stop using disposable coffee cups, companies will have to find more environmentally friendly options. 

Jessica Parrilla

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