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Costa to package new ‘smart cup’ in recycled coffee cups

Costa Coffee has launched a new reusable coffee cup that enables contactless payments and comes in packaging made from recycled coffee cups.

The coffee giant’s new ‘Clever Cup’ will allow customers to pay for their coffee using Barclaycard contactless payment technology built into the cup, while the packaging it comes in, made by paper manufacturer James Cropper, contains recycled fibre from one ‘medio’ sized cup from Costa’s own waste stream.

Currently, around 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year in the UK, with only 0.25 per cent being recycled, due in part to a lack of facilities able to deal with the mixed plastic and paper nature of the cups.

Costa to package new ‘smart cup’ in recycled coffee cups
Costa Coffee's 'Clever Cup'.

Costa has been working with James Cropper since the paper manufacturer launched its CupCycling process in September 2017, which it claims will allow it to recycle up to 500 million single-use coffee cups every year.

The launch forms part of Costa’s wider re-launch of its ‘next generation’ reusable cup range, giving customers the option to use reusable cups over single-use takeaway cups.

The Clever Cup is now available to purchase in all Costa outlets, priced at £14.99, with a £1 donation from every sale going to The Costa Foundation. It features a silicone base and contactless chip, which is detachable for ease of washing. The payments technology is made possible by Bpay from Barclays. Users can top up their balance and track payments via their phones.

Commenting on the launch, Jason Cotta, Managing Director at Costa Coffee, said:  “Whilst we are committed to ensuring more takeaway coffee cups are recovered and recycled, we also want to incentivise and reward customers who help reduce the number of takeaway cups being wasted, and hope the innovative Clever Cup will become an additional incentive for increasing the use of reusable cups."

Richard Burnett, market sector manager from James Cropper, added: "This is a really exciting step for Costa who have brought about the marriage of technology and sustainability, of convenience and environmental responsibility. They are one of the leading lights on the high street in addressing the issue of disposable coffee cups, setting an example for others in the coffee business.

"To date, we have recycled 30 million coffee cups at our world-first CupCycling facility. However, we actually have the capacity to convert 500 million per year into papers for packaging in all colours for anyone wanting to follow in Costa's footsteps."

Cutting out disposable cups

Costa has taken steps to support the collection and recycling of its single-use coffee cups in recent times, stating that it has plans to recycle 500 million cups a year by 2020, the same amount used annually by its customers.

In a bid to increase the collection of its waste coffee cups, Costa announced in April that it would be subsidising waste collection companies Biffa, Suez, Grundon, First Mile and Veolia – which aims to collect 120 million cups over the course of 2019 – to the tune of £70 per tonne of takeaway cups collected, with the aim of raising the value of the items and providing an incentive for their recycling.

Costa is certainly not alone in its efforts to increase disposable cup recycling or encourage the uptake of reusable cups, with Starbucks introducing a five pence charge on all drinks served in paper cups from July across all 950 of its stores following a successful trial. Such a move was recommended by Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) at the start of the year – though it called for a 25 pence levy – only to see the government fail to commit to implementing such a tax in the latest Autumn Statement, with the Chancellor saying that he was not convinced that it would achieve the desired shift from disposable to reusable.

Independent coffee shop chain Boston Tea Party, meanwhile, completely banned the use of disposable coffee cups in its 22 stores in June, with takeaway beverages only being sold in reusable cups. A cup loan scheme has also been developed, which allows customers to ‘rent’ a reusable cup for a deposit of £4.50, which can then be reclaimed when the cup is returned. Similarly, supermarket chain Waitrose has banned all disposable coffee cups from its stores.

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