Recycling service to stop coffee cups stacking up in the workplace

More than half of regular hot drink consumers dispose of their takeaway cups at work 

A new coffee cup recycling service is being rolled out by a UK firm following research which suggests that discarded disposable cups are stacking up in the workplace.
Resource management firm Veolia, which provides a range of environmental solutions for businesses nationwide, says it plans to collect takeaway cups as soon as consumers have finished their drinks to reduce cup contamination and increase recycling rates.
It plans to provide new and existing business customers across the UK with a specifically designed in-house recycling bin, bulk collection option and post-back service as part of a packaged service, which has multiple service options.
The move, which is supported by trials with partners such as Costa and Starbucks, is a nod to latest YouGov consumer research which shows that more than half of regular takeaway hot drink consumers dispose of their takeaway cups at work.
The research also found the following:
  • 88% of the public would use a purpose-built bin to ensure their disposable paper cups is recycled
    • Almost half (47%) would even be willing to hold onto their cup for longer if they knew they would pass a purpose-built bin
    • Nearly a quarter (24%) would go out of their way to use a purpose built bin
  • For regular takeaway hot drink consumers, those that buy at least four drinks a week or more, the most popular locations for cup disposal are:
    • Over half (52%) cite the office as a disposal location
    • 40% cite ‘on-the-go’ locations, such as train stations, service stations and on trains
    • And 31% cite coffee shops
Veolia says that, by capturing cups before they enter the general waste stream, the solution has been designed to get a higher quality of material which can be reprocessed into new products.
It claims that the YouGov research clearly demonstrates that the public is on-board, with 88% saying they would use a purpose-built recycling bin to make sure their disposable paper cup is recycled. Nearly half (47%) would be willing to hold onto their cups for longer if they knew they would pass a purpose-built bin and nearly a quarter (24%) say they would go out of their way to use one.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President at Veolia UK & Ireland, said: “Over the last six months a lot of activities have been taking place with our customers, such as Costa and Starbucks to overcome our biggest challenge – contamination in the cups. As a result, we’ve worked on a solution that will separate the cup from the general waste stream as soon as the customer has enjoyed their drink.
“The research highlights the integral role we all play in creating a sustainable future by ensuring our resources are kept in the loop for longer. When it comes to coffee cups, I’d like to take this opportunity to further encourage a mass collaboration between designers, manufacturers, vendors and consumers as we all have a part to play in the ultimate solution – as well as those less obviously involved in helping to recycle coffee cups, such as offices, campuses and train stations.”

How it works 

Once the consumer has ‘Tipped-it, flipped-it and stacked-it’ to make sure any remaining liquid is drained and the lid, sleeve and cup are separated, Veolia undertakes a further separation process to guarantee all rogue items have been removed. The firm says this is key because it will help to ensure a higher quality of material that can be reprocessed into a new product.
After the cups have been debagged, separated, checked for quality and contamination and baled up they go on to further treatment at paper pulping facilities, which recover the fibres and separate the polymer plastic lining. Working with a number of outlets, the fibre could potentially be used to make a multitude of products such as egg boxes or cup holders given back out in stores or alternatively used in the manufacturing of cellulose-based insulation for homes.