The Paper Cup Manifesto was launched in June following close collaboration by the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG) and the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) in response to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s most recent ‘War on Waste’ focussing on paper coffee cups. The Manifesto is a voluntary cross supply chain, industry led initiative designed to deliver systemic change that will increase the sustainable recovery and recycling rates of used paper cups.
Since March 2016, the PCRRG and the FPA have engaged with and secured the support of representatives from this cross supply chain issue, and have developed and launched the Paper Cup Manifesto which has 48 signatories including major retailers, cup manufacturers and waste processors.
Prior to the Manifesto agreement the PCRRG, which was established in 2014, had already carried out detailed work to understand better and address the barriers surrounding this complex issue. Speaking on behalf of the paper Cup Manifesto signatories, Dee Moloney, spokesperson for the PCRRG said “The paper used in cups are technically recyclable however the paper cups have to have a coating, usually plastic, in order to allow the cups to effectively contain liquid. As a result, there is often confusion as to the most appropriate way to handle used paper cups. But there are many other factors to consider, each part of the chain has its own considerations, starting with the production of the paper board through making it into a cup, serving drinks and collecting cups from the consumer for recycling. Each stage must be respected in order to truly have a successful solution, if considerations such as cup contamination for example are not taking into account many of the stages can falter."
Since its inception the PCRRG has carried out a number of key studies including a Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and Reprocessor Engagement study looking at the ability of UK MRFs to sort paper cups for recycling and the range of suitable end market paper specifications and research on the Downstream Material Flow Analysis, developing an in-depth understanding of how paper cups flow through the supply chain after use by the consumer, looking at issues of contamination and behaviour change to increase paper cups in the commingled recycling stream. This valuable work will provide insight and help shape the scope of the work of the Paper Cup Manifesto Group.
The FPA works on behalf of the foodservice packaging supply chain, with regard to packaging safety, hygiene, quality and the environment and brings with it further skills and expertise to embrace all the aims of this project. The FPA’s membership includes paper cup manufacturers, caterers, and waste reprocessors. Executive Director of the FPA Martin Kersh said: “A lot has happened since March when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall first brought this issue to public attention. We have acknowledged the challenge and accepted that change needs to happen. Through the three cross-industry meetings held so far we have set the wheels in motion in order to make real progress and explored all the considerations, not least the requirement for consumer education about preserving the value of the used cup.
This Manifesto provides a public commitment from all signatories, which include the major UK litter groups and local authorities, to work collaboratively to increase access to information, schemes and facilities that will ultimately increase the recovery and recycling of paper cups. Whilst previous work has given us good insight into what is required, it is recognised that only through increased industry collaboration that the pace of change can be increased to meet the challenges of increasing the recovery and recycling rates of paper cups, the Paper Cup Manifesto allows us to achieve this reach.
The Manifesto pledges that “The paper cup supply chain agrees to work together to ensure paper cups are designed, used, disposed of and collected to maximize the opportunities for recycling by further investment and funding of recycling, disposal and collection projects”. At this stage the group has not made formal targets for the number of paper cups that will be recovered or recycled but the Group will be working together up to and beyond 2020 to address this issue. Targets are being developed and launched in due course.