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Costa announces commitment to recycle half a billion takeaway cups a year

LONDON, UK — Costa Coffee has announced it will become the first ever coffee chain in the UK to commit to recycling the same volume of cups it puts onto the market in a bid to tackle the challenge of coffee cup recycling and to stop them ending up in landfill.

The UK’s coffee shop chain will recycle up to 500 million coffee cups a year by 2020, the equivalent of its entire yearly sales of takeaway cups and a fifth of the 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups consumed as a nation each year.

Takeaway coffee cups can be recycled but they must be collected correctly and sent to the right recycling plants. Today’s announcement will see Costa pay to make sure takeaway coffee cups are collected and sent to those paper mills which can recycle them.

There are currently 3 UK paper mills (James Cropper, ACE UK and DS Smith*) that can recycle these cups and from today they will move from recycling 14m** cups to 100m this year.

Costa will pay a supplement of £70 to the waste collectors for every tonne of cups collected***.

This takes the value of one tonne of cups**** from being worth on average £50 to £120, a 140% increase, making it commercially and financially attractive for waste collectors to put in place the infrastructure and processes to collect, sort and transport coffee cups to recycling plants, meaning fewer cups will end up in landfill. Today’s announcement launches in partnership with five national waste collectors – Veolia, Biffa, Suez, Grundon and First Mile.

Dominic Paul, Managing Director for Costa, said:

“Costa is putting its money where its mouth is to find an immediate solution to increasing the volume of takeaway coffee cups being recycled in the UK. It also dispels the myth that coffee cups can’t be recycled!”

“Following today’s announcement up to 100 million cups will be recycled this year alone and if the nation’s other coffee chains sign up, there is no reason why all takeaway cups could not be recycled by as early as 2020.

“At Costa we want to guarantee our customers that if they throw their cup into the right recycling bin it will get recycled, and today’s announcement is a major step towards that happening. We have set our own target to recycle the same volume of takeaway cups we use every year and call on other cup retailers to join and help to build a dynamic market for takeaway coffee cup recycling.”

Commenting on today’s announcement Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, said:

“Congratulations Costa on taking this significant step to help coffee lovers do the right thing and increase recycling. We all have a responsibility to our environment and this is a significant step by a British business which should dramatically increase the number of disposable coffee cups we recycle in this country.

“We want to help companies become plastic free and through our 25 Year Environment Plan we are putting in place the ambitions to encourage all of us to play our part in ending the scourge of plastic waste in our natural environment.”

Costa was the first coffee retailer to put in place a nationwide in-store recycling scheme, accepting any branded paper cup, and to date has recycled 14 million cups since February 2017. Today’s announcement will work alongside Costa’s ongoing commitments to increase the use of reusable cups, whilst working with a number of designers and cup manufacturers, looking at how to minimalize and eventually eliminate plastic in takeaway cups.

Costa also offers a 25p discount to all customers that use a reusable cup and recently announced that it will remove all plastic straws from its stores. As part of Whitbread PLC, Costa was part of the first major UK business to sign up to the ‘Refill’ plastic water bottle scheme, providing over 3,500 refill stations across the country.


*There are currently 3 UK paper mills James Cropper (Kendall), ACE UK (Halifax) and DS Smith (Kent) that can recycle takeaway coffee cups. Combined they currently have capacity to recycle over 4.5 billion takeaway cups per year.

**Between February 2017 and February 2018 Costa recovered and recycled 14 million takeaway cups as part of its in-store recycling scheme. Cups were collected from stores and recycled via one of our waste partners, Veolia.

***Costa will pay £70 per bale of cups to waste contractors. An additional £5 will be paid to ValPak, an independent third party, who will audit the system and report on recycling rates. The £5 will contribute to the management of the system.

****On average there are 83,000 cups per tonne based on an average of each cup weighing 12g.