Businesses sign landmark paper cup agreement

McDonald’s and Starbucks are among fourteen organisations to have signed a new agreement to accelerate UK recycling of paper cups.

The cross-industry collaboration is being coordinated by trade body the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) and is expected to result in significant progress in PE lined paper cup recycling over the next two years and beyond.

The signatories, which also include Pret A Manger and Costa Coffee, will fund a programme of activity aimed at giving more people access to recycling for paper cups.

The remaining signatories are Benders Paper Cups, Bunzl Catering Supplies, Caffe Nero, Dart Products Europe, Greggs, Huhtamaki, International Paper, Nestlé, Seda Group, and Stora Enso.

From the beginning of 2018 all ACE UK bring banks will accept paper cups for recycling to be processed at ACE UK’s recycling facility in Halifax, delivering an additional 382 recycling points located in 97 local authorities across the UK.

ACE UK will work to include cups in local authority kerbside collections with the aim of achieving coverage levels similar to the 66% of local authorities who currently collect beverage cartons.

“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,” said 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,”

Recycling of paper cups is currently impaired by a number of factors including infrastructure restrictions and consumer behaviour.

An investigation by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall last year highlighted that just 0.25% of the 2.5bn cups used every year are recycled.

Some campaign groups are calling for the introduction of a levy on paper cups similar to the charge imposed on plastic carrier bags. A recent survey showed consumers are supportive of such a levy.

This week the Environmental Audit Committee held the first oral session of its inquiry on disposable packaging. Costa Coffee, Keep Britain Tidy and Hubbub were among the organisations to give evidence.

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