Brixton leads way on coffee cup recycling

coffee cup recycling binA project to recycle 150,000 takeaway coffee from Brixton each year launches today (24 February).

Fifteen local independent coffee shops will be home to brightly coloured recycling bins for the paper cups which cannot go into regular paper recycling bins because of their plastic lining.

Brixton’s Business Improvement District (BID) is running one of 12 schemes across the country selected to receive grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 from the Cup Fund, established by the environmental charity Hubbub and funded by Starbucks from the 5p charge it introduced on paper cups in 2018.

Brixton will be the first town centre in Lambeth to introduce a coffee cup recycling scheme. The BID is running the scheme in partnership with First Mile recycling and Lambeth council.

All cups collected by the funded projects will be recycled in the UK into new products including paper bags and greetings cards. These products will be manufactured locally to reduce travel and some of them will go back to locations where the cups were collected.

Research by Hubbub shows that people are confused about paper cup recycling, as three out of four wrongly believe that paper cups can be recycled in the same way as other paper and card.

To coincide with the launch of the Re:Brixton campaign, the BID will instal 32 lamp post banners to encourage local people to recycle, reuse, refill and reduce waste.

BID director Michael Smith said: “Business sustainability is important to the Brixton BID and to businesses in Brixton.” He said the scheme was an important part of its drive for a sustainable Brixton.

“Taking 20% of all paper coffee cup in use out of the system is just the beginning,” said Smith. The BID intends to use the project to spearhead more sustainable behaviours in Brixton that would see more people using:

RE; BRIXTON bannerRESUABLE coffee cups

RECYCLING paper cups and necessary waste

REDUCING emissions from transportation and food waste, and

REFILLING personal water bottles to combat single use plastics using refilling stations like the one recently installed at Windrush Square

Gavin Ellis, director and co-founder of Hubbub, said billions of paper cups are still used each year and most are not recycled.

Haley Drage, vice president, public affairs for Starbucks in Europe,  said the company was tackling waste from its outlets from a number of angles – reducing the amount of single-use material it uses, encouraging customers to adopt reusables or investing in an alternative cup solution.

Winners of the Cup Fund grants were selected in a three-month application and selection process by an panel of experts in recycling, infrastructure, behaviour change and communications.

Hubbub has also brought together all the major coffee cup retailers to collect and recycle 5m coffee cups in one year. It also runs campaigns to reduce food waste, tackle litter and promote sustainable fashion.

Where to find the bins …

Brixton coffee cup recycling bins map