Caffeine-fuelled workers in London are being urged to use new recycling points established across the Square Mile as part of the UK’s biggest push to date to tackle the issue of disposable coffee cup recycling.
The City of London Corporation, Network Rail, national coffee retailers and some of the Square Mile’s biggest employers have joined forces in the Square Mile Challenge initiative led by environmental charity Hubbub, in partnership with recycling company Simply Cups. The scheme introduces coffee cup recycling facilities across the City and aims to collect and recycle half a million cups in the City of London throughout April, rising to 5 million by the end of the year.
More than 100 high street coffee retailers are offering recycling facilities and accepting coffee cups in their stores, regardless of where they were purchased. There are unmissable Square Mile Challenge bins in the shape of bright yellow coffee cups in place on the City’s streets and cups will be collected at both Liverpool Street and Cannon Street stations during rush hour every week day throughout the month.
Employers are playing their part, with over 30 organisations based in the City including Lloyd’s, Deloitte, Prudential, The Barbican Centre, London Metropolitan University and major business premises such as The Leadenhall building (“The Cheesegrater”) collecting paper coffee cups in their offices, helping divert them into a new waste stream.
Every day up to seven million coffee cups are thrown away across the UK, with less than 1% of these cups thought to be recycled. The tricky issue to date has been the plastic film on the inside of the paper cups, which means that the cups can rarely be recycled with other mixed recycling. The recycling methods used for the Square Mile Challenge will process the cups to create either a plastic or recovered fibre material which is made into new products, some of which will be donated to a new outdoor community space and cafe opening in the City next year.
Co-founder of Hubbub Gavin Ellis, said: “We are delighted that so many organisations, including the local authority, Network Rail and businesses that are usually in competition with each other, are collaborating to tackle this issue. We hope that other parts of the UK will follow suit and eventually reach a point where recycling levels for coffee cups are on a par with those for drinks cans and bottles.”
Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, added: “Until now there has been no consistent, reliable way to recycle coffee cups in the heart of London and so the Square Mile Challenge is a big step forward. We’re committed to making London cleaner, reducing waste and boosting recycling.”