Highstreet coffee chains must develop more recyclable cups, LGA says

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on high street coffee chains to go further in developing recyclable paper cups and to work with councils to produce a system for collecting and recycling empty cartons.

The news comes as the latest figures show more than 2.5 billion paper cups are thrown away in the UK every year.

The majority of coffee cups have a plastic coating that must be separated before the paper cup can be recycled.

The LGA highlighted that some coffee chains were making recycling more difficult for councils because the drink cup materials were getting mixed up with paper that householders had collected, resulting in more waste being transported to landfill.

The group maintained that while the rate of recycling has quadrupled over the past decade, it has come at a significant cost to councils, which currently spend around £3.3 billion per year on recycling, collecting and disposing of waste.

Councillor Peter Box, the LGA's environment spokesman, said: "Two-and-a-half billion paper cups are thrown away each year and because of the way they are designed it is extremely difficult to recycle them. Many end up in landfill sites, costing council taxpayers millions of pounds.

"Councils, who have experienced substantial budget reductions, are doing everything they can to try and tackle this but they need the industry to step up. This means coffee giants working with councils to find practical solutions. The industry has recently shown signs of heading in the right direction on this issue – but it needs to go further, faster and demonstrate positive and immediate action in developing recyclable cups.

"Recycling has been a real success story for councils and residents, and rates have quadrupled in the last decade. It's extremely frustrating that this hard work is being damaged by a lack of recyclable paper cups.

"Retailers, manufacturers and caterers must be doing more to bring down the 23 million tonnes of waste generated each year."

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