Coffee cup recycling – it’s time for a change

Have you seen the news? Coffee cup recycling is making the headlines again. Last night on BBC1, Hugh’s War on Waste revealed that almost all of the 7 million coffee cups we use every day in the UK go to landfill or incineration, despite many of them claiming to be recyclable.

“The truth is,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, ”they are barely recyclable at all – in the everyday, commonly understood sense of the word. They cannot be recycled through any of the normal public waste collection services – who are consistently diverting them to be incinerated or sent to landfill.”

We believe it’s time for a change.

With 10,000 cups disposed of every two minutes, consumers are demanding action. Here’s our compostable solution:

Vegware have known for a long time that conventional coffee cups are almost impossible to recycle. Unfortunately, the same goes for almost all conventional food packaging. The majority of conventional food packaging is made of a mix of materials – for example, cardboard coffee cups with a plastic lining, or card sandwich wedges with a plastic film. Separately, plastic and card are easy to recycle. But combined, the card contaminates the plastics recycling and the plastic contaminates the card recycling. Add in the inevitable food residues, and the result is a major recycling problem.

Compostable packaging offers a real, working solution. Vegware is made from plants, not plastic, and it’s designed to be recycled with food waste; there’s no need to clean, sort or separate any of it. With Vegware’s compostable cups, a plant-based lining replaces plastic.

The entire package (complete with the compostable lid, stirrer, compostable sugar stick and any food residues) is perfect for food waste recycling – and we have compostability certification and real-life trials to prove it. Instead of adding to the UK’s growing landfill problem or being incinerated, recycling with food waste can create nutrient rich compost, bio methane to heat homes or even be converted into electricity.

This is a real and existing solution already in use across the UK. We recently helped River Cottage achieve their best ever recycling rates at their Spring Food Fair, our high profile financial clients in Canary Wharf composted over 27 tonnes of used Vegware packaging in 2015, and the University of Cambridge compost 1.5 tonnes of used Vegware every month. Vegware is also used at over half of the UK’s universities, and in independent coffee shops across the UK.

The eco benefits of Vegware go far beyond recycling. Our plant-based materials are low-carbon and renewable, completely avoiding the use of oil-based plastic. In 2015, our customers achieved the following by using Vegware:

  • Saved 3,500 tonnes of carbon – (that’s like cancelling the carbon from 6,093 flights from London to New York)
  • Used 1, 200 tonnes of recycled content
  • Used 2,700 tonnes of renewable plant materials – not plastic

We work closely with the whole of the UK waste sector to help our clients divert their waste from landfill. Our Food Waste Network is a free service that helps Vegware clients set up food waste recycling. 

Tweet @vegware, call or email if you want to find out more about our solutions. We’re committed to helping foodservice go zero waste, and we’d love to hear from you.