Over 100 high street coffee retailers and organisations including Lloyd’s, Prudential, The Barbican Centre and London Metropolitan University are offering recycling facilities as part of the City of London’s Square Mile Challenge, in a scheme that aims to recycle five million disposable coffee cups by the end of 2017.
The organisers – environmental charity Hubbub and recycling company Simply Cups – claim the initiative will be the UK’s biggest ever coffee cup recycling scheme, with bright yellow bins in the shape of coffee cups placed on streets across the City, and cups collected from commuters at both Liverpool Street and Cannon Street stations during rush hour every week day throughout April to kick things off.
Here are the numbers: 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are used each year, with seven million of those thrown away across the UK on a daily basis. Only 1% of these cups are recycled, partly down to the plastic film inside preventing it being included with other mixed recycling.
The initiative will process the cups to create a plastic or recovered fibre material which will be made into new products, of which some will be donated to a cafe and outdoor community space due to open in the City sometime in 2018.
Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: “Until now there has been no consistent, reliable way to recycle coffee cups in the heart of London and so the Square Mile Challenge is a big step forward.”
Gavin Ellis, Co-founder of Hubbub, added: “We are delighted that so many organisations, including the local authority, Network Rail and businesses that are usually in competition with each other, are collaborating to tackle this issue. We hope that other parts of the UK will follow suit and eventually reach a point where recycling levels for coffee cups are on a par with those for drinks cans and bottles.”