Initial figures on paper cup collection from the Square Mile Challenge cup recycling scheme in London suggest that the initiative was on course to meet its target of a half a million cups in the month of April. The first three weeks of the initiative saw 343,000 cups collected thanks to over 250 recycling points in offices and coffee shops, on the streets and in stations. With more to be added in from retailers and collections now running at over 32,000 per day, the target is in sight.
The Square Mile Challenge aims to tackle coffee cup recycling and was launched by environmental charity Hubbub in partnership with recycling company Simply Cups in the City of London at the beginning of April 2017. It has seen the City of London Corporation, Network Rail, national coffee retailers and some of the Square Mile’s biggest employers join forces to introduce coffee cup recycling facilities across the city.
As highlighted in the May 2017 issue of Coffee & Cocoa International, every day up to seven million coffee cups are thrown away across the UK, with less than 1 per cent of them recycled. The issue to date has been the plastic film on the inside of the paper cups, which means that they can rarely be recycled with other mixed recycling. 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 product.
The initiative was made possible with the support of coffee retailers such as Caffè Nero, Costa, Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Pret A Manger, Starbucks, Bunzl Catering Supplies and coffee cup manufacturers including Benders Paper Cups, Dart Products Europe, Huhtamaki and SEDA International Packaging Group. It follows the launch of the Paper Cup Manifesto in June 2016, which garnered over 40 signatories from companies involved in the coffee industry, committing to improve recovery and increase recycling of paper cups.
Gavin Ellis, Co-founder of Hubbub said: “Our feeling has always been that we need to have a little faith in people to do the right thing when it comes to recycling. We’re delighted to see that this is proving to be the case and that people are happy to recycle their cups if the facilities are available to do so. The workplace collections are proving particularly successful and to date around 80 per cent of the cups collected have come from the 36 city businesses who signed up to the Square Mile Challenge. These are facilities which will stay in place beyond April, making this a long term solution for the Square Mile. Meanwhile, we’ve been contacted by more employers in the Square Mile and beyond and we’re working on plans for a wider roll out of the scheme.”
Peter Goodwin, Co-founder of Simply Cups, said: “It’s been wonderful to see all of the cups come in for sorting and to pack them off for processing. We’ve worked closely with product manufacturers to develop the range of products that can be made from the cups and these now include office supplies and products used in coffee outlets. We will be using some of the cups collected in the challenge to make the ‘tube’ bins which have been trialled very successfully in coffee outlets during the Square Mile Challenge. Pret a Manger customers will soon be able to see napkin holders and serving trays in store made from recycled coffee cups. We’re also working with the City of London Corporation to create products for a new community space opening in the east of the city next year.”