13 July 2020 by James Langley

Paper group calls for cup recycling ‘recognition’

As retailers start to re-open after lockdown, the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG) has called for greater recognition of paper cup recycling.

In a report published on 10 July, the membership organisation said it wanted to emphasise to all coffee businesses, large and small, high street and workplace, that coffee cups can be recovered and recycled.

The PCRRG launched the National Cup Recycling Scheme in 2018

The organisation said the move by the OPRL to put in place a specialist label for paper cups was a significant step forward (see letsrecycle.com story).

PCRRG chairman Neil Whittall said: “We believe what needs to happen now is more and better communication to help change consumer behaviour and get across the message that paper cups are recyclable, when they have repeatedly been told that they are not.

“Recycling your paper cup needs to become normalised behaviour.

“We know from research and evaluation of pilots and existing schemes that the process must be kept simple and easy for the consumer to engage and recycle – both to increase rates and to ensure that the waste stream is kept in the best condition.”

PCRRG members include representatives from paper board manufacturers, paper cup manufacturers, distributors, retail brands, recycling and reprocessing companies, local authorities and NGOs.


The PCRRG launched the National Cup Recycling Scheme in 2018. Figures from compliance scheme Valpak show that since its launch the scheme has collected and recycled more than 150 million cups, the PCRRG says.

The recycling rate for cups recycled through the scheme is currently 6% based on the number of cups its signatories, who include McDonalds, Pret a Manger and Caffè Nero amongst others, placed on the market in 2019, the PCRRG says.

There has been an increase of nearly 50% in the average number of cups collected each day through the scheme between its first and second years, the PCRRG says, though the number of cups being recycled per month has slowed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2018 the UK cup recycling rate was estimated to be one in 400, the PCRRG says.


Local authority collection of paper cups from bring bank sites has increased to 127, according to the PCRRG.

The membership organisation says it believes many local authorities are waiting for a consistent waste collection policy to be implemented by government, as this could provide the opportunity for cups to be collected alongside similar materials like those used in beverage cartons.


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