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New Litter Bin Aims To Improve Disposable Cup Recycling Rates

A new range of litter bins which aim to resolve the problem of recycling paper cups used by coffee shops and takeaway outlets has been launched at a shopping centre in Lincoln.

The Cafe bin has been specifically designed for paper cup recycling by litter bin manufacturers Amberol in response to a request from St Marks Shopping Centre in Lincoln. The centre already has general recycling bins which are well used by visitors but was looking for a way to improve recycling rates for disposable cups.

Recycling rates for the types of cups used by coffee shops are much lower than for other recyclable objects due to the material that cups are usually made from.  The inner lining of hot drinks cups is made from a combination of paper and plastic to make them leakproof and better able to retain heat or cold. However, this also makes them difficult to recycle and there are currently just a few specialist plants in the UK able to process disposable cups.

As a result, it’s estimated that less than 0.5% of disposable cups are recycled. Faced with these figures, staff at St Marks decided to consult Amberol who supply general recycling bins to the centre as well as Percy Penguin novelty bird bins for general waste and a Robin for recycling waste.

The design team at Amberol worked with the shopping centre management to develop a bespoke multi-stream bin which was installed at the centre at the end of 2018. The bin has three separate compartments: one for lids, one for liquids and one for the cup itself.

“The issue of recycling disposable cups is a significant challenge for those involved in food retail as well as waste management,” comments Amberol’s managing director Patience Atkinson-Gregory. “There are specific issues around the separation of materials that make the process difficult, so these bins had to be a bespoke design based on the needs of St Marks Centre.”

The cups collected are currently being recycled via the centre’s Costa coffee outlet.

Centre Manager Valerie Johnson explains the reason behind installing the bins at St Marks: “Here at St Marks we are extremely passionate about the environment and recycling. Following recent Green Apple Awards, we are now focusing on our coffee cup campaign, to ensure all cups are recycled right here at St Marks.

“The bins will be located in Station Street, one at the side of Sports Direct and one opposite Costa. We thank you in advance for supporting our environmental mission.”

According to the House of Commons Environmental Committee an estimated 2.5 billion drinks cups are used and thrown away in the UK each year. As a result of rising public awareness, some of the UK’s biggest sellers of coffee claim to have started recycling coffee cups if customers dispose of their takeaway cups on site.

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