If there’s one thing that most facilities managers, office managers, food service operators and caterers know, it’s that office staff can be pretty lazy with hygiene and following straightforward signage. Signs saying “please wash up your mugs”, “please use the correct waste bin provided” and their ilk are often ignored by a handful of office staff. Frustrating stuff indeed. And even when you think you’re making headway – introducing recycling points and getting buy-in from almost everyone from director to intern – there it is, polluting your lovely paper or cardboard recycling stream: the dreaded disposable coffee cup. Nestled among the assiduously sorted waste, spilling the dregs of cappuccino foam across the rest of the contents of the bin. Which is why a new scheme, providing dedicated coffee cup recycling points for businesses, should make office coffee cup recycling much easier for facilities managers and caterers alike.
It’s a partnership between Royal Mail and corrugated packaging specialists DS Smith. And, in principle, it couldn’t be simpler. Businesses sign up and buy a pretty reasonably priced £15 cardboard recycling box. It’s called the Coffee Cups Drop Box. It’s cleanly, clearly labelled and features a series of round holes in the top. A three-step process: separate plastic lid from the cup (plastic lids can be recycled with other single-use plastics); pour the liquid down the sink; drop the coffee cup into the recycling box.
The recycling box will hold around 700 disposable coffee cups. Once it’s full, Royal Mail will take the entire box back to DS Smith so that the contents can be processed at its paper mill. Being 100% cardboard, even the box itself can be readily recycled (if your staff haven’t ignored the instructions to empty their cups and ruined the outer box with coffee dregs!).
The key to success will be box placement, signage and repeat communication. Introducing the Coffee Cups Drop Box should help keep your other recycling streams cleaner and reduce a good percentage of the cups which currently end up in landfill. In YouGov research commissioned by DS Smith, it emerged that 59% of British workers who buy takeaway coffee (and 73% of the adult population consumes the stuff) dispose of their cups at their workplace. That puts the responsibility firmly on the shoulders of anyone involved in office catering, supplies and management.
The Coffee Cups Drop Box will be available to order from October this year. Head to https://www.dssmith.com/recycling/insights/coffee-cups-recycling to find out more, and make a note in your calendar to order your first box!