Investment company Landsec has joined forces with a consortium of national coffee retailers to change the lifecycle of disposable coffee cups and improve the sustainability of the coffee sector.
The consortium, established by Landsec and led by Costa Coffee, will trial methods to sharply increase the quantity of coffee cups recycled.
Three Landsec retail destinations, Bluewater, Trinity Leeds and Gunwharf Quays, are running individual trials to develop the best way to encourage customers to dispose of their coffee cups and ensure that the cups reach papermills in a suitable condition.
The trials are being run with partners including environmental charity The Hubbub Foundation.
According to Landsec, the 5% plastic insert inside the cups is difficult for papermills to remove, while UK legislation prevents papermills who produce food packaging from recycling disposable coffee cups back into food packaging.
To change this, Landsec is getting involved at two key points in the lifecycle of a coffee cup.
At the point of disposal, the firm is working to increase the number of cups that consumers put in coffee cup recycling bins or in-store recycling bins, helping to reduce the likelihood of contamination and increasing the rate of recycling.
As part of the trial, both new bins and new signs will be put in at each of the three retail destinations.
It is also ensuring that after collection, used coffee cups are distributed to a suitable mill by brokering relationships between coffee retailers and waste companies.
Although individual coffee retailers are responsible for the sale of the cups, Landsec will assume responsibility for the waste produced at its sites as it is the property owner.
Landsec sustainability manager Tom Byrne said: “Problems of this scale cannot be eradicated by one organisation – or even one industry – alone. The complexities of supply chains are such that we need to view sustainability issues holistically, to drastically reduce the amount of waste that doesn’t get recycled.
“Consumers are largely unaware of the significant barriers to recycling coffee cups on a large scale. This initiative is about bringing organisations together to find a solution, in a pragmatic and practical way. We’re saying to the industries involved that we can see what the problem is, we’ve got a good idea of how to fix it and we’d like to work together to do so. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to sharing the outcomes of our trials in due course.”
Costa Coffee head of environment Ollie Rosevear said: “Costa Coffee has been at the forefront of addressing the complex issues around coffee cup recycling and we’re delighted to partner with a landlord as forward-thinking and passionate as Landsec to look at increasing the recycling rates within their operating environments.
“We are collectively working on exciting solutions with the will of consumers wanting to do the right thing and look forward to further innovating UK-wide solutions.”
Landsec plans to extend the scheme across the rest of its portfolio in the coming months.