- UK nonprofit Hubbub, known for its creative waste strategies, is launching a social experiment campaign called #1MoreShot in the city of Manchester with the goal of collecting 20,000 coffee cups for recycling over the next three months, as reported by edie.
- Eleven bins shaped like coffee cups have been distributed throughout the city — sponsored by the local government, Caffé Nero, KFC, McDonald’s, Nestle, Pret a Manger and others.
- The cups will then be recycled into 15,000 flower pots for Manchester community gardens using a polymer process from Nextek and ashortwalk.
It's unclear whether people will use these bins just for coffee cups, though they're likely to at least collect a more homogeneous material stream than standard refuse cans. According to Hubbub, an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away in the U.K. every year and only one in 400 are recycled. Due to their polyethylene lining, these cups could potentially take decades to break down.
Recent media attention in the U.K. has made this a hot issue and many companies have begun to respond. Starbucks estimates that it uses 4 billion cups per year globally and years of efforts to make them more recyclable have been relatively unsuccessful. Some of the company's U.K. locations have agreed to test out cups from the company Frugalpac with liners that can be more easily separated. Other chains such as Pret a Manger have taken the recycling logos off of their cups until a better solution can be found.
Yet these efforts haven't satisfied some advocates which are now calling for a fee on the cups similar to plastic bags. Like bags and polystyrene foam these cups are recyclable, but collecting them in large enough quantities — with minimal contamination — is one of the biggest challenges. As pressure mounts in the U.K. some form of fee or regulation may be possible and could easily encourage similar efforts around packaging in the U.S.