Simply Cups – which runs the only UK cup recycling service – said that only 3 million cups were recycled last year (expected to double this year) but 7 million cups are used each day.
The four biggest coffee chains in the UK; Costa, Starbucks, Caffé Nero and Pret a Manger, all make claims about recycling or suggest that they are environmentally friendly.
Costa uses the recycling symbol (see photo) although Pret and Caffé Nero only have it on their cardboard sleeves. Starbucks’ website says it wants to make 100% of its cups recyclable by 2015.
The Environment Minister has suggested a tax on coffee to reduce waste and litter along the same lines as the tax on plastic bags which worked (Tesco reduced disposable bag usage by 80% in two months). This is not going to happen however according to a government statement on the matter.
An alternative suggestion came from the Chief Executive of Viridor which recycles waste for local authorities. He said it’s too costly to remove the plastic coating and suggested burning them instead as a source of energy.
A British company, 3 Boys, is planning to start producing coffee cups from recycled paper with an easily removable plastic lining (necessary because EU food safety regulations prohibit contact between recycled paper and food and drink)
In the meantime Costa and Starbucks have pledged to do better at recycling!
We do love our coffee and if we can be environmentally friendly even better.