Focus On Paper Cup Recycling Mustn’t Impact On Quality

a8168cdc-8770-4e18-96c5-9a5722cb852e--in_pageThe Recycling Association has said that attempts to improve the recycling of coffee cups must not jeopardise efforts to improve the quality of paper recycling. 

This week, BBC1 will broadcast the latest Hugh’s War on Waste programme by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in which he looks at the issue of why 99% of the 2.5 billion paper coffee cups thrown away each year are landfilled or incinerated.

But The Recycling Association has warned that efforts to recycle more coffee cups could lead to more contamination when recycling cardboard or newspapers and magazines. There is a risk that when people throw away these coffee cups, they will assume they should be recycled in existing separate paper recycling bins and containers.

“We want transparency, and we want action from these [coffee] companies,” says Hugh. “Only by changing to a cup that is properly recyclable in the public waste disposal system, or by massively investing in new specialized facilities, can they justify the bold environmental claims they are making. This is a solvable problem, so let’s see them solve it.”

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “We need to be very careful that more recycling of cardboard coffee cups does not lead to more contamination of the rest of the paper recycling stream.

“By their nature, even these cups when emptied will contain residue of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, all of which will act as a contaminant if mixed with other types of cardboard, office paper or newspaper.

“Plus, the plastic lids may also get mixed in with other sources of paper requiring more sorting and impacting on quality.

“While Hugh’s attempts to encourage less waste are welcome, we need to be very careful that these efforts do not create adverse impacts on a sector where the quality of material supplied to end destinations at home and abroad is vital.

“However, The Recycling Association is always interested in finding a solution, so we are happy to be part of a joined-up approach in the supply chain, to find a way for these cups to be recycled without damaging existing recycling markets.”

Simply Cups

Simply Cups, the UK’s ONLY workable cup recycling scheme, has urged the food service industry to dramatically speed up the process of making food and drink packaging more ‘ed’ and less ‘able’.

Peter Goodwin, co-Director of Simply Cups, argues that collaboration is the only way to resolve this issue:

“Through Hugh’s campaign, it has become abundantly clear that consumers were unaware of how little of their food packaging is actually being recycled and are now expecting swift action to address the issue. This means that all sections of the food service industry, including suppliers, retailers and the waste industry, need to work more collaboratively to ensure that packaging is actually being ‘recycled’ or ‘composted’ rather than accepting a claim that a product could be ’recyclable’ or ‘compostable’”.

“We want transparency, and we want action from these [coffee] companies,” says Hugh. “Only by changing to a cup that is properly recyclable in the public waste disposal system, or by massively investing in new specialized facilities, can they justify the bold environmental claims they are making. This is a solvable problem, so let’s see them solve it.”

Hugh’s War on Waste is broadcast on BBC1 on Thursday 28 July at 9pm.

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