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Industry funds ACE UK plan to introduce paper cup collection across UK

McDonald’s, Starbucks and Greggs are among the 14 organisations that have committed to working towards a long-term and nationwide paper cup recycling solution, funding recycling programme run by Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK).

Industry funds ACE UK plan to introduce paper cup collection across UK
The issue of takeaway paper cups, which are coated in plastic lining to create a waterproof and more durable product and so cannot be recycled in normal paper streams, was one of the hot topics of 2016, with the hospitality industry and producers taking a number of approaches to increasing the sustainability of the items, an estimated 2.5 billion of which are thrown away as residual waste every year.

This agreement to boost paper cup recycling has been co-ordinated by the ACE UK, which has spread the recycling of beverage cartons over the past ten years to the extent that 92 per cent of local authorities in the UK now collect the complex containers.

It will see the 14 companies fund an activity programme which will look to extend access to recycling for paper cups.

Using this funding, from 1 January 2018, all ACE UK bring banks will accept paper cups for recycling, delivering an additional 382 recycling points located in 97 local authorities across the UK. A further 33 recycling points are scheduled to be introduced across an additional eight local authorities during the next phase. Cups from these recycling points will be processed at ACE UK’s recycling facility in Halifax.

Using its experience and existing relationships with local authorities and waste management organisations and recycling bodies, ACE UK will also work to include cups in local authority kerbside collections. 66 per cent of local authorities currently collect beverage cartons at kerbside, and ACE UK hopes to achieve similar levels of coverage for cups.

“The paper cup industry is facing very similar recycling challenges to the ones the beverage carton industry faced when we started our programme ten years ago,” commented Richard Hands, CEO of ACE UK. “Whilst our primary focus will remain on increasing beverage carton recycling, we believe our expertise, experience and existing relationships can help the paper cup industry create a step change in cup recycling. Whilst it is early days, we have a clear measured plan agreed and expect to see significant progress in cup recycling over the next two years and beyond.”

Industry funds ACE UK plan to introduce paper cup collection across UK
92 per cent of UK councils collect cartons through ACE UK's network of bring banks or at the kerbside
'Significant advance in paper cup recycling infrastructure'

The companies that have signed up to the agreement are: coffee chains Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, and Pret A Manger; food and drink retailers Greggs and McDonald’s UK; cup and catering products manufacturers Benders Paper Cups, Bunzl Catering Supplies, Dart Products Europe, Huhtamaki, Seda Group, Stora Enso and International Paper; and consumer good producer Nestlé.

Last year, in response to public outcry about coffee cup waste started by a BBC documentary by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) and Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG) launched ‘The Paper Cup Manifesto’, an industry-wide initiative with the objective of significantly increasing paper cup recovery and recycling rates by 2020.

Neil Whittall Global Category Director of Speciality Coffee at Huhtamaki UK, and Chair of the PCRRG said: “Whilst paper cups are fully recyclable, the industry recognises that many are not being recycled because of a lack of collection facilities. Companies across the industry have been working to address this barrier and increase cup recycling.

“This agreement with ACE UK represents a significant advance in UK recycling infrastructure for paper cups. It will also help us accelerate progress towards the PCRRG’s objective of ensuring the majority of the UK population have access to information, schemes and facilities to allow them to recycle their paper cup, as set out in our Paper Cup Manifesto.”

“Furthermore by generating greater volumes of cups for recycling this will create a market for the material, making cups more attractive to waste management companies and creating the potential for more schemes to be introduced to collect cups from a much wider range of locations such as offices and high street locations.”

The agreement builds on activities implemented and supported during the last year by some of the companies involved, such as in-store cup recycling, single site and pilot recycling projects including ‘One More Shot’ and the ‘Square Mile Challenge’.

The ‘Square Mile Challenge’ sought to improve collection in the City of London, the most densely-populated office environment in the UK by setting up collection points in the streets, stations and office blocks.

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