Cardboard coffee cup recycling nightmare!

costa coffee Have you been walking around, thinking that coffee shops are giving you your coffee in cardboard cups because they're recycled? It would make sense that this would be the case right? Why on earth wouldn't they be recycled?

Well, turns out that less than one in every 400 cups dished out by high street coffee chains in the UK are recycled, according to reports.

You might argue that Costa, Pret, Starbucks, Caffè Nero, and others, have mislead customers by letting them think that these cups were environmentally friendly, when really, they're not. With around 7 million of these cups being used every day in Britain, totting up to 2.5 billion a year, you can see why this is a problem.

So what is being done about it?

Well, Starbucks say that the coffee chains are going to have to team up, and work together to get this sorted out. A spokesperson for the company said: "The ability to recycle our takeaway cups is dependent upon many factors, including local government policies and access to recycling markets such as paper mills and plastic processors and this is something that needs to be tackled in collaboration."

"Through our work and that of others in the industry we are optimistic that these complex issues can be tackled by a combination of approaches actively being explored."

Pret tried to go fully recyclable last year, but a lot of paper mills don't process coffee cups, so they had to back away. They said: "We understand that most of our coffee cups are disposed of outside of our shops and we are working collaboratively with other companies within the industry to find ways to improve the recovery and recycling rates of takeaway cups."

Caffè Nero are a founding member of The Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group, in a bid to sort this problem out, while Costa said: "As a responsible retailer it is extremely important to us that we help identify ways to increase the levels of recycling and encourage change in the waste industry."

Talking to The Times, Peter Goodwin - the founder of Simply Cups, the UK's only paper cup recycling service, said:  "The consumer has trust in the brand that if they put a recycling sign on a cup then that product is being recycled. People are being misled."

"People are getting fed up with environmental stories and greenwash - we see a great cry in the marketplace for transparency. We need to tell people where the material is going to and what it is being made into."


  • Mark S.
    The best for of recycling is reusing. How about an unbranded (or generically branded cup) that can be used in ALL of the major chains? Maybe branded in the colours of a charity (e.g. McMillan for their coffee mornings) with the profits from the sale of the cup going to the charity and the cost of the cardboard cup not used either being taken of the price you pay or donated to the same charity?
  • Germaine G.
    Notice it said "some" paper mills don't recycle, not "ALL" or NO paper mills recycle, so you arrange it with ones that do, & invest in it to fulfil your duties to the green claims you should clearly get fined for bearing in mind the duplicity involved!
  • Raggedy
    @Mark Slavin Wonderful idea! Unfortunately, I can't see this happening unless someone somewhere is raking off a huge profit. :-(
  • Han S.
    Or you could just make them all biodegradable then it wouldn't matter

What do you think?

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