Paper cup recycling


So the government is not going to introduce a latte levy – right? According to the popular press yes that’s right – and the government has ducked its responsibilities in relation to paper cup recycling. But fast forward a few hours after this announcement and Minister Therese Coffey was playing a different tune on BBC Radio Four ‘Any Questions’ saying that whilst not the preferred route the charges were by no means ruled out.

So who’s right? Well both viewpoints are right. The Government has said it is impressed with the actions industry is taking to solve this problem by itself without government intervention, but if it doesn’t accelerate these efforts then yes, a latte levy might well be on the horizon.

Where does that leave the vending industry? Well what it means is that we must continue our efforts and increase the pace of achievement over the coming weeks and months if we are truly to convince government that we can and are taking action to increase the recovery and recycling of paper cups, reducing waste and litter as a result.

Let’s dispel that media myth once again – paper cups can and are being recycled in the UK. More and more collection and recovery points are being added week by week – at the last count it was more than 4000+ collection points in retail coffee shops, offices and bring bank facilities and is growing all the time. This includes the collaboration with ACE UK which went live in January which added 415 recycling points located in 105 local authorities across the UK. The programme will be further developed to include kerbside collections.

There are already four facilities in the UK that will process used paper cups and most recently a new announcement by DS Smith that they will be looking to process cups in their Kent facility (which has the capacity to handle over 2.5 billion cups) – which means all those used cups will now get reprocessed into new paper items!

Those of us in vending have a huge opportunity to contribute to these efforts in a significant way because we mostly operate in closed environments – where capturing and collecting used cups for reprocessing should be straightforward. Talk to your waste management company and see if you can collaborate over collecting paper cups as a separate waste stream and ensure they go for effective recycling. As I said in my last post, get it right and the whole process can be cost neutral and environmentally effective. Vending is far better placed than the high street to make a real difference fast simply because our cups don’t tend to walk out of the front door and beyond.

The two companies that are already collecting and processing vending cups – both paper and plastic – are happy to collaborate and devise systems to fit your operation – so talk to them now – Simply Cups and Options Recycling.

We believe we’ve got a ‘window’ for action from now until the Chancellor puts together his November budget – if a latte levy is going to be brought in that’s when its likely to happen. The AVA and the PCRRG are actively encouraging as many vending businesses as possible to get involved and get recycling paper cups so we can show we don’t need a latte levy – are you in?

By stepping up our efforts over the coming months and making the recovery and recycling of paper cups the ‘norm’ in our sector, we will demonstrate that there is no need for a random latte tax and that we can take responsibility for ourselves, our businesses and our planet.

For further information on paper cup recycling and sustainability contact our team today on 01978 855661 or email [email protected]

About the Author

Adrian Pratt
Vice Chairman of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycle Group (PCRRG)
Marketing Manager – Benders Paper Cups