Property giant Landsec has teamed up with a group of national retailers led by Costa Coffee in a drive to establish an effective industry system for recycling a sizeable chunk of the estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups used in the UK each year.
Described as a UK first, the industry-wide working group is being established by Landsec to trial methods to increase recycling rates for coffee cups, which are usually made from a complex combination of paper and plastic materials which makes recycling difficult.
The initiative was announced late last week and includes individual trials at three Landsec retail destinations – Bluewater, Trinity Leeds, and Gunwarf Quays shopping centres – designed to establish the best way of encouraging customers to dispose of their coffee cups to ensure the cups reach appropriate paper mills in a suitable condition to be treated and recycled, the company explained.
The trials are being run with a range of partners, including environmental campaign charity Hubbub, Landsec said.
The five per cent plastic content of many paper coffee cups is difficult for many papermill recyclers to remove, Landsec explained, while UK legislation also prevents papermills which produce food packaging from recycling disposable coffee cups.
As such, the trials are aimed at increasing the number of coffee cups which consumers place in dedicated recycling bins by providing new bins and signage at each of the retail destinations.
Meanwhile, Landsec said that as the property owner it would use its “unique position in the supply chain” to try and broker closer relationships between coffee retailers and waste companies to establish a smoother industry recycling chain for coffee cups.
Landsec’s sustainability manager Tom Byrne said cross-sector partnerships were crucial for tackling the UK’s coffee cup waste challenge as “problems of this scale cannot be eradicated by one organisation – or even one industry – alone”.
“The complexities of supply chains are such that we need to view sustainability issues holistically, to drastically reduce the amount of waste that doesn’t get recycled,” he said. “This initiative is about bringing organisations together to find a solution, in a pragmatic and practical way. We’re saying to the industries involved that we can see what the problem is, we’ve got a good idea of how to fix it and we’d like to work together to do so. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to sharing the outcomes of our trials in due course.”
Landsec said it also planned to roll out the scheme across the rest of its portfolio of retail properties “in the coming months”.
Ollie Rosevear, head of environment at Costa Coffee, welcomed the new partnership. “We are collectively working on exciting solutions with the will of consumers wanting to do the right thing and look forward to further innovating UK-wide solutions,” he said