INCPEN questions whether recycling is always best ahead of TV Hugh’s War on Waste


Ahead of this week’s broadcast of the latest War on Waste TV programme by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment (INCPEN) has questioned whether recycling is always the best solution.

In the programme, to be shown on BBC1 on 28 July, Hugh looks at packaging with Amazon and the cups produced by the likes of Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero.


INCPEN has highlighted that companies often face a dilemma of whether to apply a recycling logo to a pack if it can be recycled, even though the collecting, sorting and cleaning of it could use more resources than would be cleaned. Or should they leave it off and acknowledge that some packaging can’t be recycled and potentially lose customers.

According to INCPEN, coffee cup recycling is highly resource intensive and over 30% of the weight of cups sent for recycling is contamination.

While campaigning for recycling of more bottles, cans and newspapers, INCPEN argued that dirty items such as coffee cups should be treated with residual waste to create energy.

INCPEN director Jane Bickerstaffe said: “Whether a cup is recycled or not, let’s enjoy drinks on-the-go and put the empty cups in a bin – and be grateful that packaging enables us to live the lifestyle we want.”