Five London paper cup recycling programmes amongst first beneficiaries of Hubbub's The Cup Fund

Edwina Langley
Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

Did you know the UK now has the capacity to recycle all paper cups – even those lined with plastic polyethylene to make them waterproof? The obstacle to overcome, however, is that they have to be recycled separately from other paper waste – and how to get this message across to those used to a one-recycling-bin-fits-all mentality?

Enter environmental charity Hubbub and their The Cup Fund, the UK’s largest paper cup recycling grant fund. Backed by Starbucks’ 5p cup charge, the aim of it was to identify and support projects across the UK working to promote, facilitate and manage the recycling of, specifically, paper cups.

Today, 12 programmes have been announced as the first beneficiaries of the fund, each receiving grants of between £50,000 and £100,000.

Including initiatives across the UK, five were selected in London, among which were The Camden Cup Project – working together, the Camden Climate Change Alliance, Veolia, local offices, independent coffee shops and street sweepers, will collect and recycle single-use coffee cups; the Grosvenor Estates’ Recycle UP project, where specially designed bins will be assigned to offices and popular public areas across almost 150 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia; and the three universities’ coffee cup recycling project (including a recycling strategy improvement programme) at University of Westminster, Queen Mary University of London, and University of Greenwich.

Southbank’s sustainable cup recycling scheme and Brixton’s coffee cup recycling scheme – the first in Lambeth – make up the London five, with other winners including city-wide schemes in Bristol, Oxford, Northampton and York.

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An estimated 35 million cups are expected to be recycled over the course of a year owing to these initiatives – 4 million of which will be in London. A predicted 420 tonnes of waste will also be recycled, and cup recycling facilities will be brought to 70 new locations across the UK.

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder of Hubbub, said of the scheme: “We have been so impressed with the scale of the winning projects’ ambitions and we are looking forward to supporting them over the coming year.”

Deputy Mayor of London for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues adds: “I’m pleased to see five London-based projects are being awarded the Cup Fund. It’s great to see projects which prevent single-use cups ending up in landfill or being incinerated, but our ultimate goal must be to reduce the amount we use in the first place. We already know that there is a great willingness in London to ditch single-use plastic bottles and drinks containers.”

According to the most recent government data, 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK, with less than 1 in 400 (under 0.25%) recycled. Every day, an estimated 500,000 are disposed of as litter.

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