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How Is Costa Tackling Coffee Cup Waste?

Dec 02 2016 Comments 0

The largest coffee shop chain in the UK has announced a scheme to recycle coffee cups from its own stores and from competitors in a bid to reduce pollution and clean up our environment. Costa had been trialling the initiative at selected stores in Manchester and London, and following the success of the run, will be rolling out the same idea nationwide.

A huge problem

With our carbon footprint an ever-increasing concern for individuals, businesses and governments across the world, the need to reduce our waste output has never been greater. This is especially true of plastic, which is non-biodegradable, ubiquitous and can effect long-lasting damage on the environment.

Several different avenues of tackling the problem have been embarked upon by scientists and environmentalists, with the possibility of waste materials (including plastic) being used as fuel feedstock an exciting area of investigation. Despite such initiatives, a huge amount of plastic is simply thrown into landfill sites every day, resulting in an incredibly profligate use of this material and an irreversible effect on our planet.

Several years ago, the UK government took steps to try and reduce the national consumption of plastic by introducing a fee for disposable bags at supermarkets and large stores. As far back as 2009, plastic bag use was down by 48% from the previous year, but the introduction of the new law in 2015 in England followed suit from similar legislation passed in the rest of the UK, curbing non-reusable bag use even further.

In the wake of revelations that only 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK due to their complicated composition, campaigners have sought to address that particular problem in a similar manner.

Costa leading the way

Costa has responded to the challenge by creating spaces in all of their stores where customers can leave their takeaway cups, even if they purchased them at a rival store. Costa’s environmental partner Veolia will then transport the cups to a specialised facility where they will be responsibly recycled, thus limiting their harmful impact on the environment.

“As the UK’s largest coffee shop brand, we want to make it as easy as possible for the public to recycle their used coffee cups,” explained Jason Cotta, the managing director of the chain. “Our research in Manchester and London shows around 40 cups per day are left in stores, which means we have the potential to recycle 30 million Costa cups a year. What’s more, the fact that we will accept competitors’ cups means we could significantly increase that figure.”

“We are committed to taking a lead and, like many others, we are working hard to find a cup that can be recycled anywhere,” Cotta went on. “Whilst there is more work to do in partnership with the wider industry, we are excited to see the impact our new in-store recycling offer will have and hope it is embraced by everyone – by our customers and by those who buy their coffee elsewhere.”

Though Costa might be leading the charge to reduce coffee cup waste, they are not the only brand doing their bit. Starbucks are investigating an entirely-recyclable cup, while Manchester is hosting a trial for a paper cup recycling scheme organised by eco-charity Hubbub and supported by a whole host of big brands, such as Pret a Manger, McDonalds, KFC and Greggs.

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