10 October 2017 by Elizabeth Slow

Recycling of cups and cartons moves forward

Moves to further develop the recycling of coffee cups and cartons were announced today (10 October).

On the cups front, a trade group is bringing different companies together to increase cup volumes for collecting. And, on the cartons side, Waste and Resource Action Plan (WRAP) has published new collections guidance for collecting cartons as part of its consistency work.



Carton bring banks

Organisations from across the paper cup supply chain have signed an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) to accelerate UK recycling of PE lined paper cups.

The cross-industry collaboration will work towards delivering a long-term, nationwide paper cup recycling solution which builds on the recycling activities achieved so far by the paper cup industry.

The companies signed up to the agreement are: Benders Paper Cups, Bunzl Catering Supplies, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Dart Products Europe, Greggs, Huhtamaki, International Paper, McDonald’s UK, Nestlé, Pret A Manger, Seda Group, Starbucks, and Stora Enso.

As part of the agreement, the 14 companies will fund an activity programme which will give more people access to recycling for paper cups.

From 1st January 2018 all ACE UK bring banks will accept paper cups for recycling, delivering an additional 382 recycling points located in 97 local authorities across the UK. A further 33 recycling points across an additional eight local authorities are scheduled during the next phase.

Cups from these recycling points will be processed at ACE UK’s recycling facility in Halifax.

ACE UK said it will work to include cups in local authority kerbside collections. According to the group, currently 66% of local authorities collect beverage cartons at kerbside, in addition to those which collect through bring banks. It is hoped the programme will achieve similar levels of coverage for cups.

“We believe our expertise, experience and existing relationships can help the paper cup industry create a step change in cup recycling”

Richard Hands

ACE UK has been running the beverage carton industry’s recycling programme for the last ten years. Today, the group reports that 92% of local authorities collect beverage cartons for recycling through either bring banks or kerbside collection.

Commenting on the agreement Richard Hands, CEO of ACE UK said: “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.

“Whilst it is early days, we have a clear measured plan agreed and expect to see significant progress in cup recycling over the next two years and beyond.”

The agreement builds on activities implemented and supported during the last year by the companies involved, such as in-store cup recycling, single site and pilot recycling projects including ‘One More Shot’ and the ‘Square Mile Challenge’.

Neil Whittall, global category director of speciality coffee at Huhtamaki UK, and chair of the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG) said: “Whilst paper cups are fully recyclable, the industry recognises that many are not being recycled because of a lack of collection facilities. Companies across the industry have been working to address this barrier and increase cup recycling.

“This agreement with ACE UK represents a significant advance in UK recycling infrastructure for paper cups.”


Country setting: The beverage carton recycling facility at Stainland near Halifax

He continued: “Furthermore by generating greater volumes of cups for recycling this will create a market for the material, making cups more attractive to waste management companies and creating the potential for more schemes to be introduced to collect cups from a much wider range of locations such as offices and high street locations.”


Also this week, WRAP has published a guide for councils interested in collecting cartons from households for recycling, in conjunction with ACE UK.

According to WRAP, the purpose of the guide is to provide information on the economic, operational, environmental and policy aspects of kerbside carton collections so that officers can make informed decisions on the best way to handle and market this material for effective recycling.

The advice given in the guide is based on observations of local authorities with existing carton collection and sorting systems, as well as interviews carried out with local authorities and other waste carton stakeholders.

Commenting on the publication, ACE UK’s Richard Hands, said: “We very much welcome this guidance, which will be of real help to local authorities and waste contractors looking to include beverage cartons in their recycling collections, and we are grateful to WRAP for producing it.”

The guidance has been developed by WRAP as part of its Framework for Greater Consistency in Household Recycling in England which includes cartons as one of the eight materials to be collected by local authorities.

Related links
Cartons guidance



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