Many of us who pick up a hot coffee from Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero or Pret – or any number of independent coffee outlets, take the trouble to “do the right thing” with the empty cup.We throw it into the street bin marked “mixed recycling” – or even take it to work and put in the recycling bin there..
“The truth is,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, ”they are barely recyclable at all – in the everyday, commonly understood sense of the word. They cannot be recycled through any of the normal public waste collection services - who are consistently diverting them to be incinerated or sent to landfill. There is, however, a company using a specialist facility in Cumbria called Simply Cups that recycles a small number of cups from a few companies – including some from Costa and McDonalds. “I’ve been in touch with Simply Cups,” says Hugh, “and the total they handle is still less than 6 million a year - less than ¼ of one per cent of the cups we throw away.