Coffee cup recycling station

Network Rail introduces coffee cup recycling at stations

Coffee cup recycling station

Network Rail has installed 32 coffee cup recycling bins at seven UK railway stations in an effort to make stations cleaner and greener.

The transport body hopes to have cup recycling facilities in all 20 of its stations by the end of October, after a YouGov appeal revealed that less than a third of Brits who buy coffee while travelling recycle their cup correctly.

To encourage commuters to Sip, Save and Recycle their cups in Britain’s biggest and busiest stations, Network Rail has rolled out the first of their new coffee cup recycling bins at King’s Cross, Leeds, London Bridge, Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Charing Cross and Cannon Street.

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As passenger numbers slowly increase and with 60% of station retailers now open, those travelling by train or visiting the stations can make use of the bright orange bins to recycle any paper coffee cups purchased during their journey.

Recycled cups are turned into upcycled reusable cups and other products including tissue and packaging, reducing waste and encouraging a circular economy.

Partnering with environmental charity Hubbub and working closely with waste provider, Interserve, Network Rail will be installing specially designed bins at all managed stations – including Birmingham New Street, Bristol Temple Meads, Edinburgh Waverley, Manchester Piccadilly and 11 London stations – by the end of October.

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Coffee cup recycling station

The rollout comes as a new YouGov study commissioned by Network Rail reveals that consumers want to recycle cups but often do not know how:

  • 58 per cent use either a waste bin or general recycling bin to recycle cups despite these systems being unable to manage paper cups; almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those who use a general recycling bin did not realise that coffee or paper cups should be recycled in specific bins.
  • Only 3 in 10 adults (30 per cent) who purchase a cup of coffee while travelling reported that they use a bin specifically designed for recycling coffee cups once they have finished with it.
  • Of those who don’t tend to recycle paper cups, just over half (52 per cent) say it’s because there isn’t anywhere available for them to do so throughout their journey, while 21 per cent feel that public recycling facilities are inadequate.

The initiative follows Network Rail’s launch of their new sustainability strategy, which includes ambitions to make stations greener.

Jo Lewington, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer at Network Rail, said: “We know that more of our passengers want to do their bit for the environment and recycling is an easy way for them to get involved. So, as we start to welcome passengers back in ever increasing numbers, we’re working harder than ever to ensure our stations are not only cleaner, but also greener.

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“By installing accessible, easy-to-use cup recycling bins across our managed station network this year, we’re helping our passengers to reduce their waste with a simple message – “Sip, Save and Recycle”. We believe the initiative will go a long way to supporting the circular economy and making our stations more sustainable.”

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder of Hubbub, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Network Rail on the introduction of these new cup recycling points. Cups can be easily recycled but, because they have a plastic lining that stops hot drinks from leaking, they need to be collected separately from other recycling. 

“There is now plenty of capacity to recycle cups in the UK; what is needed is more infrastructure to collect the cups in high footfall places, so train stations are the ideal location. Our support for this initiative was made possible with funding from the Starbucks 5p cup charge, which Hubbub uses to make it easier and simpler for the public to recycle the cups they use, as well as promoting the use of reusable cups.”

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Sam Hewitt

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