- Over 80% of coffee drinks in the United Kingdom use disposable paper cups, according to a YouGov survey conducted for Veolia. Veolia is now pushing its "coffee cup solution" to meet market and consumer demands for a way to recycle coffee cups, according to a press release.
- Veolia is offering coffee cup recycling to new and existing customers as part of its packaged service. According to the company, this would include a specially-designed recycling bin and a bulk collection service that is open to "all business types."
- According to the YouGov data, 52% of disposable coffee cups are thrown away at work — which is why Veolia is trying to target businesses to get coffee cups into the recycling stream.
Veolia's push to introduce in-house coffee cup recycling is new in its workplace-targeted approach, but it's not new in targeting coffee cup waste — and not alone in recycling efforts in the United Kingdom. After public pressure, Nespresso launched a pilot curbside collection program for single-use aluminum coffee pods (Nespresso also offers a mail-in recycling program in the U.S. and some European nations). It makes sense that multiple firms are targeting coffee cup waste in the U.K., since billions are tossed annually. A study out of Cardiff University showed that a combination of mitigation efforts was the best way for the island nation to increase its diversion rate for disposable coffee cups.
Coffee cup recycling is just as heated of an issue on the other side of the Atlantic. Global coffee chain Starbucks, with 26,000 stores in 75 countries, has faced significant pressure for not following through on its 2008 promise to have a fully-recyclable cup by 2015. While the company hasn't met its initially-promised goal, it has started manufacturing cups with 10% post-consumer material. Keurig, too, has faced backlash for the sheer volume of plastic waste the single-use K-Cups produce. Keurig has made progress, like moving up a 2020 target: the company announced that all K-Cups made in Canada will be 100% recyclable by 2018.
With over 80% of U.K. coffee drinkers using disposable cups, and fewer than 2% of Starbucks drinkers using reusable cups, the waste industry is going to have to continue to think of ways to keep the ubiquitous paper and plastic cups from crowding out landfills. Veolia's approach — targeting workplaces, where most U.K. coffee drinks toss their cups — is the kind of innovative thinking that the global waste industry needs when targeting sectors that are such a constant part of the waste stream.