Own up, how many of you can’t go the day without a cup of coffee? It’s almost cliché, but that sweet sweet dark-roast nectar is vital to how many of us function and get through each day. Coffee is so important to us that we seemingly need it at any and every opportunity; at home, in a café, and especially whilst out and about.
The problem with take-away coffee though is all in the cups, which although cardboard are not easily or actively recyclable, in part due to their polymer plastic linings which help to keep the cups from leaking. Even putting these cups in public bins does not help, as cups either go from energy from waste (EfW) or end up in general landfill when placed in conventional waste bins. 84% of us who insist on having our coffee mobile are still using these disposable cups, with regular consumers disposing of these at work (52%), on-the-go (40% – train stations, waiting rooms etc., not on the high street) or in coffee shops (31%).
To help combat this and reduce the number of cups going to landfill, the UK’s leading resource management company Veolia has rolled out its new national coffee cup solution to help offices across the UK make recycling possible. Trialled at various customer locations including industry giants Starbucks and Costa, the scheme is open to new and existing customers in several different guises, from specialist designed in-house recycling facilities, bulk collections, and post-back options.
By capturing cups before they enter the general waste stream, Veolia’s solution aims to get a higher quality of material that can be reprocessed into a new product. A staggering 88% of the public would use a purpose-built recycling bin to ensure their disposable paper cup is recycled, almost half (47%) would be willing to hold onto their cup for longer if they knew they would pass a purpose-built bin and nearly a quarter (24%) would go out of their way to use one.
It seems preposterous that an easy solution to recycle coffee cups has only just come into effect, considering the leaps and bounds made both commercially and privately to encourage and increase recycling in the last twenty years. It is hoped that through this new initiative that less cups will face contamination and will therefore be exposed to new applications post recycling, everything from egg boxes to cellulose-based insulation for homes.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President at Veolia UK & Ireland, concurs: “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 consumers have enjoyed their drinks. 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.”
Moo are another company taking steps to revitalize and revolutionise recycling. The business card retailer recently unveiled their new cards made from recycled t-shirts. An industry first, the cards have been developed by Moo in association with Mohawk Fine Papers and have been touted as their approach to traditional rag paper.
By using waste from the fashion industry, Moo are not only re-using and repurposing leftover cotton, but are also saving trees in the process. By using fabric off-cuts that would otherwise be discarded, Moo and Mohawk have innovated an exciting way to re-visit and re-introduce cotton paper to a broader market.
“We’re always looking for new ways to reimagine the classics, combining age old-techniques with cutting-edge design thinking and technology.” says Richard Moross, MOO’s founder and CEO “With Cotton we’re attempting to create a new classic out of an iconic item of clothing.”
Chris Harrold, VP Creative Director at Mohawk concurs, “We’re always working towards something that’s just beyond reach, and finding a way to get it done. It was exciting to discover a way to bring cotton, rag-made paper back, there’s really nothing like it.”
Photo by Valeri Randalainen