Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Coffee shops urged to act on takeaway cup recycling

December 2011

UK fresh coffee retailers have been told by a consumer group that they are failing to drive recycling of the considerable volume of takeaway cups they provide.

Research by the Which? consumer watchdog found that the use of mixed materials and an absence of convenient recycling bins is causing an unnecessarily large proportion (more than half) of the estimated 2.5 billion takeaway cups thrown away each year to be disposed of in simple waste bins.

With a focus on marketing the ethical sourcing of their beans, it seems UK coffee outlets have not prioritised recycling of the receptacles. Which? said: “Just putting a logo on the cup does not mean to say you will be able to recycle it once outside the shop. More clarity is needed for consumers on what mixed-material items can be recycled in which recycling bins or facilities.”

Greggs, which hands out 30 million disposable cups a year, says along with other firms that its receptacles are the consumer’s responsibility once out of the shop. But it is the presence of polythene in the cups – very much the company’s responsibility in the opinion of Which? – which makes recycling them difficult for customers.

Which? | UK & NI Ireland | Recycling

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