Costa Promises Recycling Revolution, Will Actually Recycle All the Coffee Cups it Sells

By Tom Pritchard on at

Coffee cups are bad apparently, mainly because they're made with a mix of paper and plastic that's quite hard to recycle - meaning a lot of them aren't. To the point that government ministers have considered charging a 25p "latté-levy" for anyone who doesn't turn up to their local coffee-emporium with a reusable cup. Coffee chains seem to have taken this problem to heart, with Costa now declaring it will spearhead a "cup recycling revolution".

The idea is that Costa will be responsible for recycling the same number of cups as it sells, even if they come from rival chains. That means 500 million cups will be recycled each year, with Costa offering an extra £70 per tonne to encourage waste collection companies to come and pick them up. An extra £5 per tonne will be spent to pay a different company who will make sure the cups are being recycled properly.

According to Costa there have been recent "misconceptions" about whether disposable coffee cups could actually be recycled, seeing as how the paper cups have an interior layer of plastic that had "previously been considered difficult to separate". The company claims the problem is down to collecting the cups. It says it, along with other national coffee chains, have recycling collection points in place for most of its branches, but the problem arises from the people who take their coffee to go and throw the cup away somewhere else.

So the goal is ti make it more "commercially and financially attractive" for waste collectors to invest in infrastructure that can deal with the plastic/paper combo. The extra £70 per tonne Costa is offering means that companies will end up with £120 for every tonne of coffee cups they collect, up from £50. Costa clearly understands that money is an excellent incentive for businesses to do the right thing.

Disposable coffee cups have come under a lot of scrutiny recently, particularly after Blue Planet II made the general public more conscious of the plastic that's clogging up the world's oceans. While some sections of the government don't sound too keen on the idea of taxing disposable cups at the point of sale, it seems those responsible are taking proactive measures. Starbucks trialled a 5p charge to further encourage people to bring their own cup, Waitrose stopped giving out complimentary coffees without one, and now Costa has outlined its own plans.

It's a bad time to be a coffee cup. [BBC News]


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