There’s a new initiative in the City of London to keep an estimated five million disposable coffee cups a year from finding their way to a landfill. According to The Guardian, the City of London Corporation is teaming up with Network Rail to provide dedicated disposable coffee cup recycling stations to offices, coffee shops, and street corners within the Square Mile (but not that Square Mile) to help boost the percentage of recycled cups from the estimated 2.5 billion disposed of yearly within the UK.
Only one in every 400 cups in the UK is thought to be recycled, but the issue is more than just accessibility to recycling stations. Because of the plastic film coating the inside of the cups, they cannot be processed through normal through standard household or paper recycling methods. Instead, they require one of two specialized methods, which either turns the paper and plastic composite cups into a resin that can be mixed with other recycled plastics to create a material that can be used in making things like park benches, or pulps the cups, a process that separates the paper from the plastic.
Working with Simply Cups–a UK-based company disposable cup recycling company that currently works with Costa Coffee, Pret a Manger, and McDonald’s—the City of London is offering a year of free pickup services to the first 30 businesses with over 500 employees to sign up for the challenge. All other businesses will receive a discount.
Director of Simply Cups Peter Goodwin states:
It’s fantastic that big businesses are supporting the Square Mile challenge. Large numbers of coffee cups are binned in offices as people arrive at work or pop out for coffees throughout the day. We’d like to see responsible disposal of these become as commonplace as paper recycling schemes in offices and we hope that seeing the products that can be produced from their recycled cups will help motivate city workers to support the recycling effort.
On its own, the Square Mile challenge won’t put much of a dent in the number of cups in the UK destined for landfills. Five million is a lot, but pales in comparison to 2.5 billion. But its success is important because it is a pilot program, and if it works, it could spread to the other 606 square miles in London. And that would certainly make more than a dent.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.