The numbers are huge: 2.5bn single-use cups are thrown away every year across the UK; currently we only recycle one in every 400.
There are numerous companies working tirelessly to solve the throw-away coffee cup challenge, but we need the recycling collection infrastructure to be far better.
The two main challenges to overcome are: firstly, there is the plastic waterproof lining that must be removed from the cups. Then the cups must not be too badly soiled by food waste (collecting the cups as soon as the consumer has finished their drink minimises contamination).
A joined-up approach is needed. If the recycling companies can work together with local councils, coffee sellers and the waste management sector to improve segregation of the cups and develop a comprehensive collection infrastructure, we can make a huge difference.
Every day in the UK, one in five of us visit a coffee shop for our must have “hot beverage on the go”. We, the consumer, need educating to “do the right thing” once we have enjoyed that drink, but we need convincing that the cup we hold in our hand can be and is, recycled.