- Costa Coffee, the U.K.'s largest coffee chain, will launch a cup recycling program at all of its more than 2,000 stores by the end of January, as reported by The Guardian.
- Customers can bring disposable paper cups from any store, including other brands, to "bespoke" racks in every Costa location. Veolia will then take the cups to be recycled. Costa expects that this program could collect 30 million cups per year just from its own stores and the number may be much higher when factoring in cups from competitors.
- The company has also been funding research about cup recycling at Sheffield University and donates money to anti-littering charities when customers opt for reusable cups.
Coffee cup recycling has been receiving increased attention since a new report came out saying that 3 billion cups are used in the U.K. per year and less than one in 400 of them are recycled. The polyethylene lining used in many cups makes it harder to recycle them using traditional methods. In response, processors have been working on new solutions to meet this growing demand.
As is the case with other challenging items, processing the cups can be easier when they're collected in large quantities. Hubbub, a U.K. nonprofit, recently launched a pilot program to collect 20,000 cups over a three-month period using large bins shaped like coffee cups on the streets of Manchester. Starbucks has taken a slightly different approach in the U.K. by testing out a new type of recyclable cup from Frugalpac.
Finding ways to turn this around will help the sustainability claims of these coffee chains and potentially provide new business opportunities for recyclers that are willing to take on the material. If successful, some of these ideas could eventually come to the U.S. where the amount of disposable cups being used is estimated to be much higher than in the U.K.