Costa planning to put a lid on wasted cups

By Oliver Rosevear, Costa Coffee Energy and Environment Manager, Costa

Putting cup recycling at the top of our agenda, we are pleased to have announced a nationwide recycling scheme that will launch at the end January, 2017.

The recycling scheme, which will roll out across over 2,000 of our stores, will ensure the recovery and recycling of Costa takeaway cups. We’re also pleased to note that competitor takeaway cups will be accepted by Costa stores in order to increase the number of cups recycled across the country.

Customers will be encouraged to leave or return their takeaway cups to a Costa store where they will be collected by Costa team members and stored back of house on a cup rack. Signs in stores will communicate to customers where to leave or return their cups to.

Utilising a backhaul solution we will recover the cups in bulk, a minimum of three times a week to ensure our stores have the capacity to recover any cup left or returned. Our partner, Veolia, will then recycle the takeaway cups and turn the pulp into moulded fibre products such as egg boxes and cup holders.

This scheme is being implemented following a successful trial in over 45 Costa stores, across London and Manchester. The trial found that 14 per cent of takeaway cups sold, which equates to around 40 cups a day, per store, could be recovered for recycling. We have been able to recycle 100% of the cups recovered during the trial. This is an estimated 30 million Costa cups every year saved from landfill. We hope this number will dramatically increase next year with targeted marketing and opening the scheme to competitor cups.

We are committed to taking a lead and, like many others; we are working hard to find a cup that can be recycled anywhere across the UK. Our research with Sheffield University is helping us to review the current design and recyclability of the materials that our cups are made from. We are also testing a number of new cup concepts which should improve the recyclability of our paper cups. However, we must ensure any new cup we take forward is scalable, fit for purpose and fully recyclable.

We recognise our in store recycling scheme is not the final solution. Consumers need to be able to easily recycle their cups – on the street, in the office or at home. Our recent work with Hubbub in Manchester is helping us to understand consumer behaviour whilst on the go. We hope our mapping work as part of the Sheffield University research will allow us to understand the opportunity for more widespread cup recycling in the UK.

Ultimately the most recyclable cup is one that isn’t used. We are therefore keen to look at ways of encouraging customers to use a reusable travel cup when having a takeaway coffee. We already make a donation to charity each time a customer uses their reusable cup and we are looking at further opportunity to promote this in the New Year.

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