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Pcrrg reports huge increase in coffee cup recyling in the UK

MILAN – Coffee cup recycling rates have increased from an estimated 1:400 to 1:25 in just two years and will increase to 1:12 in 2019, according to a Report published on 26 October by the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG).

Through its collaborative programme of workshops and seminars, the PCRRG has facilitated a step change in paper cup recycling that sees it confident of meeting its 2016 Manifesto Goal that ‘by 2020 the greater majority of the UK population will have access to information, schemes and facilities that enable used paper cups to be sustainably recovered and recycled.’


In fact, the Report shows that capacity exists now to recycle all the papers cups used in the UK.

In the past 12 months the work of the PCRRG and its members have led to the following progress:

  • There are now more than 4,500 paper cup recycling points in the UK for consumers to return cups via bring banks and in-store take back schemes;
  • 115 local authorities now collect paper cups with paper cartons, with more coming on stream all the time;
  • 21 waste collectors are now actively participating in a national recycling scheme to increase recycling of paper cups and transport them to their reprocessing end markets, up from two last year;
  • Five reprocessors are accepting paper cups including ACE UK, DS Smith, James Cropper and Veolia;
  • At least nine councils have started to include paper cups in kerbside collection schemes for householders, and that number is growing through the ACE UK programme*

Neil Whittall, Chairman of the PCRRG said: “The industry can be justly proud of the progress it has made so far but of course we know that there is more work to do. Consumers are rightly demanding change and Government is keen to make that happen. However we believe that by working together we are demonstrating that industry can and will make change in a way that benefits the circular economy, protects UK manufacturing and engineering jobs and does not threaten the success of the high street.   As a result of our actions and our support for PRN reform,  we don’t believe that burdening the consumer with more cost in the form of a cup tax or charge is needed.”

Mark Pawsey, Chairman of the All Party Parliament Group on Packaging, said: “The figures speak for themselves, but what impresses me is how this industry has taken a serious challenge and pulled together to effect change that is workable for all stakeholders.  The desire to make change has driven people to set aside their competitive differences in order to achieve something that is wanted by consumers, desired by Government and is right for the industry.   I am confident the PCRRG will meet and exceed its Manifesto goal and its work is a credit to the industry and an example to other sectors.”

* the ACE UK paper cup collection scheme was launched in earlier 2018 by 14 organisations in collaboration with ACE UK (the Alliance for Beverage cartons and the Environment) to accelerate the recycling of PE lined paper cups. Cups are now accepted at more than 430 ACE bring banks in 115 local authorities and the scheme is rapidly expanding.