PAPER CUP RECYCLING – THE CASE FOR THE PAPER CUP MANIFESTO
MEDIA STATEMENT 29 July 2016
Martin Kersh, Executive Director of the FPA puts the case for the Paper Cup Manifesto
As expected, campaigner and TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall delivered an assault on the major coffee shops and paper cups in last night’s War on Waste programme (BBC 1, 28 July 2016). Paper cups representing just 0.7% of paper based packaging waste volume, a figure derived from Defra Waste Data, December 2015.
Contrary to the inference in the War on Waste programme, the packaging industry takes recycling very seriously and 46 companies representing the whole supply chain, from paper board producers, converters, retailers and caterers, waste management, litter groups, local government and recyclers have agreed a Manifesto of action to deal with the issue. The Manifesto’s objective being ‘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’.
Bringing such a wide range of organisations together is a major development and a public statement of intent but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall dismissed the Manifesto with the words “It’s not what we’ve asked .. which is ‘will you commit to fully recyclable coffee cups by a certain date?’. It’s couched in the usual woolly terms, which potentially allows them to shirk the responsibility. It’s basically like saying ‘right, this coffee cup thing, we’re all going to deal with it, right? Right!”
The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) and the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG) who jointly coordinated the Manifesto, refute this. The Manifesto objective is realistic and is far from woolly. The objective is not at this stage numeric, simply because more research is required and the Manifesto signatories anticipate that concrete figures will be applied once that research is completed.
Furthermore, as the FPA has pointed out before (March 2016), the commonly used style of paper cup is currently recyclable. To be recycled it needs to be collected and sent to the appropriate recycling facility. The programme did not discuss what was happening to the cup after it is placed in a high street bin. The programme suggested that retailers should use a cup that can be recycled in all paper recycling facilities in the same way as newspapers and a specific cup was referenced on the programme. Whilst initiatives are always welcomed that lead to an increase in recycling provided they are scalable, safe and financially and environmentally viable, the task the industry faces, whatever the cup, is to get that cup from consumer to recycler efficiently. This means increasing the collection of cups in a condition that makes them easier to recycle. They need to be empty and not disposed of with lots of different items inside them like a ‘mini waste bin’ as this contaminates the waste-stream.
The core challenge is that cups are used outside of the home or the coffee shop and specific cup recycling schemes need to be devised to encourage correct disposal away from home. An increase in the recycling of cups will require more consumer information, more schemes and more facilities as the Manifesto already states. To achieve the desired increased in recycling will require the public to be involved in the solution and changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour. The Manifesto is ‘a partnership of business, suppliers and the public to increase the recovery and recycling of paper cups’. It is only by all parties working closely together that improvements will be achieved, not least because a recyclable cup does not make it to a recycling facility on its own.
Any increase in paper cup recycling must also be balanced against the reality that recycling is not energy neutral – it takes energy, water, chemical agents, transport and labour to collect, segregate, clean and reprocess and therefore any scheme has to be economically viable.
The Paper Cup Manifesto is a positive example of industry taking action and a visible demonstration of its willingness to collaborate. The coffee to go sector is buoyant and set for continued growth as today’s convenience life-styles are here to stay. Consumer demand for coffee, drinks and food on the go continues to rise and growth is forecast to increase from 20 000 to 30 000 coffee shops by 2025 (Source: Project Cafe 2016 UK report from Allegra World Coffee Portal). As part of this surge in convenience life-style, packaging is an essential ingredient. The goods it protects amount to 20 times more than the carbon impact of the packaging and without packaging developments there would not be as much progress on food waste reduction as has been achieved.
It’s all too easy to dismiss the Manifesto but recycling is complex and it is only by bringing the entire supply chain together real progress will be made.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has stated “I understand that it takes time to get things changed, but it doesn’t take long to admit things need changing and get the wheels in motion.” The industry openly admit things need changing and has certainly set the wheels in motion.
29 July 2016
Issued on behalf of the FPA by Leapfrog PR. Editorial contacts are for the FPA Felicity Read on 01242 282000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Most of the coffee cups used by major retail coffee chains are made in the UK, supporting UK jobs
- Paper coffee cups make up just 0.7% of total paper packaging waste (Source data based on Defra, Government Statistical Service 15 December 2015)
- Recycling is not energy neutral – it takes energy, water, chemical agents, transport and labour to collect, segregate, clean and reprocess and therefore has to be economically viable
- Educating consumers to avoid contaminating used cups – emptying liquid out and not using them as ‘mini-bins’ will improve recovery rates
- Consumer education to highlight the socially unacceptable face of littering in streets and along roads is also critical
- Convenience life-styles are here to stay – consumer demand for coffee, drinks and food on the go continues to rise – there are now more than 20 000 coffee shops in the UK, all paying business rates, with customers spending more than £7.9 billion in 2015. Growth is forecast at 30 000 outlets by 2025. (Source: Project Cafe 2016 UK report from Allegra World Coffee Portal).
- All major coffee shops and cup converters are obligated under the Producer Responsibility Regulations and as such they purchase Packaging Recovery Notes to comply with their producer responsibility legislation
26 July 2016
Issued on behalf of the PCRRG by the Anthesis Group and by the FPA by Leapfrog PR. Editorial contacts are for the FPA Felicity Read on 01242 282000 or email email@example.com and for the PCRRG Lucy Boreham on +447825 416 584 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dee Moloney is available for comment for the PCRRG and Martin Kersh is available for comment for the FPAPAPER CUP MANIFESTO FAQs WHY USE PAPER CUPS
4 Aces Ltd
Benders Paper Cups
British Plastics Federation
British Retail Consortium
British Soft Drinks Association
Bunzl Catering Supplies
Clean Up Britain (CLUB)
Costa/ Whitbread Group Plc
Confederation of Paper Industries
Dart Products Europe
Foodservice Packaging Association
Havi Global Solutions
Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Kent Resource Partnership
Marks and Spencer
The Packaging Federation
The Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group
Pelican Rouge Coffee Solutions
Pret a Manger
South Cambs DC and Cambridge City Council
Starbucks Coffee Company
University of Sheffield Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre
Waitrose/ John Lewis Partnership
Yum! Brands/ KFC
Zeus Packaging Group