Adrian Pratt, Chair of the AVA Cup and Environment Committee and Vice Chairman of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG), gives us an update on paper cup recycling


The wide-ranging debates surrounding recycling, the circular economy and reduction in unnecessary use of plastics continue unabated. Much of the debate has been focused on packaging in the On-the-Go and Retail channels, arguably appearing to give a very low level of importance to the vending channel.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, although plastic features in all the headlines, disposable cups are included in all the subsequent commentary.

The Automatic Vending Association has been taking a leading role in support of the vending market, across the increasingly broad range of environmental discussions involving the UK Government departments as well as those of the UK’s individual devolved nations.

Circular economy recycling targets, producer responsibility, deposit return schemes, single use plastics – these are all actively under review and very likely to impact vending in the future.

The industry continues to work hard through collaboration, research and appropriate trials to help solve the issues of getting used cups to the right recycling facilities and new systems and schemes are coming on board all the time.

The Automatic Vending Association is supporting the work of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group and The Paper Cup Alliance in establishing sufficient recycling resource at UK based paper mills to manage every paper coffee cup used in the UK market!

Collecting and delivering used paper cups to these paper mills is increasingly accessible.  There are segregated waste collection operators – companies like Options Recycling and Simply Cups  – and now most national waste management companies – Veolia, Biffa, Suez, Grundon’s etc, along with regional waste companies, are providing more used cup collection services.

The work that industry and the trade associations are involved in continues at pace with projects to give greater access to collection services, to build consumer awareness about the value of the fibres in paper cups and to deliver a consistent approach to on-pack messaging.

This is a journey, and to continue the progress needs support and participation from all vending cup users. To support the AVA and take part please contact me

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