Recycling in the City: the Square Mile coffee cup challenge

A morning coffee on your way to work is an essential ritual for many Londoners. But it comes at a much higher cost than the £2.40 we pay for our flat white.

A staggering 2.5 billion disposable cups are used in the UK every year and – no matter how diligent you are at popping yours into the recycling bin – less than one per cent are actually recycled because of the plastic film used to waterproof the cups.

However, a new scheme launched in the City of London aims to recycle five million paper cups by the end of this year.

It’s the brainchild of environmental charity Hubbub and recycling company Simply Cups. They have brought together more than 130 coffee retailers and corporate businesses to put big yellow bins in the shaped like coffee cups in offices and around the City’s streets.

The collected cups will be recycled by an innovative system and made into new products such as picnic benches, trays and coasters. Some of these will be donated to a new outdoor community space and cafe opening in the City next year.

Of course, ideally, we should  switch to reusable cups for our early morning caffeine fix, which would also reduce the environmental impact of creating the one-time-only-use cups in the first place.

But, as Gavin Ellis, Co-founder of Hubbub, says: “It would be easy to suggest that everyone should use reusable cups for our hot drinks, but the reality is that disposable cups are being used in their millions and so we have to deliver a solution to this issue.”

Any action is better than no action. So, here’s hoping they achieve their goals and paper cups all over London, and the UK, can be successfully recycled soon.

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