Paper Cups: Industry Joins in with this Government's Green Agenda

A daily tea or coffee to-go has become part of the average work day for millions of Brits. Indeed, as a nation we go through an astonishing 2.5bn disposable paper cups a year! Even if you’re not an ardent environmentalist, it is still disconcerting to know that that less than 1% of them are recycled.

As I child I remember rushing about collecting dozens of glass bottles at the weekend to return them to the local pub to claim the cash for doing so. It seems to me that proper incentives are as important as public awareness when it comes to mass participation in recycling.

The latest in this Government’s green agenda has been cracking down on single use, disposable cups. Our ever-enthusiastic Environment Secretary has led from the front, presenting every Cabinet Minister with a reusable cup to symbolise the changes underway. Enlightened high street chains have backed the Government on its plan to tackle the UK’s disposable culture, with Pret a Manger offering a 50p discount to customers using their own cup, Costa Coffee offering 25p off and 20p at Greggs.

The reason that so few paper cups are recycled is that the name is actually a misnomer. Paper coffee cups contain a thin layer of polythene which actually makes them unrecyclable, except at one of 4 specialist facilities.

But whilst all of us want to do our bit for the environment by recycling, we don’t all drink coffee enough to justify carrying around a reusable cup everywhere we go. Thankfully, the beverage industry is willing to help by providing more collection points.

A collection of 14 companies and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) have expanded a series of 382 recycling collection points across the country to accept paper cups alongside food and drink cartons.

In the Windsor constituency an expanded point can be found on Longshot Lane, RG12 1RL. ACE will be following this up with further work on developing kerbside collections and extending commercial collection services.

Hopefully this will aid in the fight against disposable plastic waste, and is also a welcome sign of a cultural shift in the attitude of British businesses and consumers that will complement this Conservative Government’s 25 year plan to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state for our children than the one we inherited.

In the last year this Conservative Government has cracked down on the ivory trade, made CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses, banned microbeads, increased sentences for animal cruelty, banned harmful pesticides and taxed diesel cars. This commitment to tackle Britain’s disposable culture is yet another step in the right direction.



Note to editors

1.    Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.

2.    He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.

3.    He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).

4.    He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.

5.    To read more about Adam’s position on the environment please click here.

6.    The 14 companies signed up to the agreement are: Benders Paper Cups, Bunzl Catering Supplies, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Dart Products Europe, Greggs, Huhtamaki, International Paper, McDonald’s UK, Nestlé, Pret A Manger, Seda Group, Starbucks, and Stora Enso.