It’s no surprise just how much the UK loves coffee, every day we drink approximately 55 million cups of coffee. In recent years many of us have taken to the high streets to get our coffee fix with 80 per cent of people visiting coffee shops at least once a week and 16 per cent visiting on a daily basis.
From here, approximately 2.5 billion takeaway cups are used every year and this is where the problem lies. Some are calling it the ‘coffee cup crisis’. Barely any of these cups are being recycled and it’s no fault of the general public. Many are putting the cups in recycle bins but unknown to most, it’s as good as pointless.
To make takeaway cups waterproof, the card is fused with polyethylene. This material cannot be separated out again in a standard recycling mill so instead, the billions of cups sent for recycling get diverted to landfill. Coffee shops and cafes are able to label their cups as recyclable as they technically are. However, it is only possible in a highly specialised recycling facility and there are only two of these in the UK.
It has been recently found that the polyethylene is resistant to degradation and could take around 30 years to break down. Even without the plastic lining, degradation would take at least two years because of the high-quality paper.
The situation is leaving an immense carbon footprint and coffee shops are beginning to take note of the growing awareness of the general public. Costa Coffee has set up a nationwide coffee cup recycling initiative as have Starbucks, albeit on a smaller scale.
Some have proposed a tax on coffee cups following the success of the plastic bag tax. Another suggestion is for more investment to be put into creating a fully recyclable takeaway cup. Whilst neither of these outcomes look likely in the near future, the problem remains for councils and environment backers.
For facilities management companies with clients that are in public spaces such as shopping centres, entertainment venues or transport providers, there is a large volume of takeaway cups to deal with on a daily basis.
JNL can partner your facilities management by providing a reliable service that effectively collects and disposes of your client’s waste materials on your behalf, saving you time and resources. We guarantee to take the waste to the best possible place.
To find out more about our waste management services call us on 01933 410 789.