Procurement · 18 April 2018

Costa Coffee to recycle 500m cups as part of a “cup recycling revolution”

Around 99.75 per cent of disposable coffee cups thrown away each year are not recycled.

The UK’s biggest coffee chain, Costa Coffee, plans to recycle 500m cups a year in an effort to cut down the amount sent to landfill sites.

Around 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK and 99.75 per cent are not recycled.

Costa currently have recycling collection points for their cups in their 2,380 UK branches, but most takeaway coffees are consumed elsewhere.

The coffee giant says that the issue is collecting the cups once they have been disposed of correctly.

Costa managing director, Dominic Paul, told Sky News: “By creating a market for cups as a valuable recyclable material, we are confident that we can transform the UK’s ineffective and inconsistent ‘binfrastructure’ to ensure hundreds of millions of cups get recycled every year.

“One hundred million cups will be recycled this year alone following today’s announcement, and if the nation’s other coffee chains sign up, there is no reason why all takeaway cups could not be recycled by as early as 2020.”

Costa aim to persuade waste collection collectors to put in place infrastructure to hand the cups, such as installing collection points in office and taking them to recycling points.

As previously there had been misconceptions that had arose about whether a coffee cup could be recycled because of the plastic layer, which had been considered difficult to separate.

As a fsorm of encouragement, Costa has pledged to pay waste collection firms a supplement of £70 a tonne to collect its cups. This is on top of the £50 it already receive.

An additional £5 per tonne will be paid to a firm that will check the scheme is running smoothly.

The five waste collection firms have been involved are in developing the new scheme are:

  1. Veolia,
  2. Biffa
  3. Suez
  4. Grundon
  5. First Mile.

Grundon’s sales and marketing director, Bradley Smith, said Costa was helping to create the right conditions for paper cups to become a valuable recycled material.

“This provides increased stability and confidence in the market, which will help waste management companies like Grundon to extend paper cup recycling services to more customers,” he added.

Environmental campaigners have also welcomed Costa’s move to a greener environment.

Welcoming the announcement, Gavin Ellis, co-founder of environmental charity Hubbub, said there had been a significant increase in the UK’s recycling facilities over recent months, and “the biggest challenge now is to make sure the used cups are collected and make it to the recycling plants”.

And the environment minister, Therese Coffey, congratulated Costa on taking a “significant step to help coffee lovers do the right thing and increase recycling”.

The greener attitude follows recommendations by the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs, an additional 25p charge onto takeaway coffee cups to tackle the billions thrown away each year is being considered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The committee claimed the charge would encourage consumers to carry their own reusable cups, with money raised via the tax used to fund recycling plants that can process plastic-lined takeaway cups.

“Latte levy” could unfairly hit independent coffee shops

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

Work and Wellbeing