The first bales of used coffee cups from a scheme in collaboration with Forge Recycling, Hubbub and Leeds City Council, have been delivered to the James Cropper Paper Mill in Kendal.
This delivery signals a step in James Cropper’s ambition to help recycle some of the estimated three billion take-away cups that are thrown-away in the UK annually.
Through the firm’s CupCycling technology, a process dedicated to upcycling disposable coffee cups, its mill has the capacity to upcycle 500 million used cups.
Forge Recycling has collected almost 200,000 single-use coffee cups from workplaces, coffee shops, universities, shopping centres and on street cup bins, since launching on 18 October 2019 up to 25 January 2019. James Cropper will recycle all 200,000 cups collected.
The pilot will run until March 2019 alongside the #LeedsbyExample campaign and will aim to improve the ‘on-the-go’ recycling infrastructure for coffee cups, and other packaging such as plastics and cans.
Forge Recycling collects the waste and has also introduced a new paper cup collection service, focusing on a closed loop system. It has so far collected cups from Leeds University and Leeds Beckett University.
James Cropper chairman and chief executive Phil Wild said: “With the capacity to upcycle 500 million coffee cups per year we welcome the thousands of discarded cups brought to Kendal today and hope this is just one of many local initiatives we can support to meet the capacity that we have. This scheme demonstrates that with the right infrastructure, great in-roads can be made to tackle the coffee cup issue.
“There needs to be a change in mindset in how we handle waste and source materials, and ensuring packaging is easy for consumers to recycle is key to this. The delivery marks a pivotal moment for recycling in the UK – and for us, it’s a step towards realising the potential of our CupCycling capabilities.”
Major brands including Asda, Coca-Cola GB, Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Pret A Manger, Starbucks and Shell, have joined Hubbub’s #LeedsByExample initiative so far.
Although the trial in Leeds ends in March 2019, Forge Recycling has estimated that the number of cups it could deliver to James Cropper in one year from Leeds could surpass one million.
Forge Waste and Recycling operations director Sam Goodall said: “In just three months we’ve quickly moved from collecting very few cups to nearly two-hundred-thousand that are ready for delivery to the James Cropper mill. The pilot shows that the potential for our work with Hubbub and James Cropper to transform UK waste and embed circular economy thinking when it comes to coffee cups in cities is very real.”
The CupCycling process involves removing the plastic coating that makes the take-away cups waterproof, while maintaining the paper fibres, with the cups then being transformed into fine paper for consumer packaging such as the yellow Selfridges&Co carrier bag.