Huhtamaki and Stora Enso have joined forces to launch a new paper cup recycling initiative called The Cup Collective. The programme, which is the first of its kind in Europe, aims to recycle and capture the value of used paper cups on an industrial scale. Huhtamaki is a key global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world. Stora Enso is a leading provider of renewable products in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper, and one of the largest private forest owners in the world.
The EU has set recycling target for paper and board packaging of 85% by 2030. Paper cups are recyclable but first need to be segregated at source and then collected before they can be turned into new paper products.
The EU is also intent on restricting the use of a number of single-use packaging items in the hospitality sector, including paper cups. As such, a number of EU countries have now implemented new rules that also set targets for companies to ensure a certain quantity of products are provided in reusable or refillable packaging. In the case of cups, 20 percent of takeaway beverage sales made by a café must be served in reusable packaging or using customers’ own containers by 2030, with the target ramping up to 80 percent in 2040. Naturally, the foodservice and hospitality sectors are looking to their supply chain for practical solutions to enable them to both comply with these news laws and be seen to provide forward-thinking, sustainable solutions.
By delivering a number of high-profile waste-to-resource programmes, co-cre8 is widely viewed as a key player in developing the circular economy. Most notably, in 2014, the team behind co-cre8 established Simply Cups in the UK, the world’s first cup collection and recycling scheme that has since gone international and subsequently acquired by Biffa Plc.
As a major supplier of paper cups to the foodservice sector across Europe, Huhtamaki had the foresight to realise that it had to be central in helping its customers more easily recycle their used cups. Teaming up with Stora Enso, who operate recycling facilities across Europe, the pair new that once paper cups have been captured in bulk it could turn these into second-life paper products. What they had no experience in implementing, however, was a system that captured cups at source and then bulked for onward processing. Naturally, they turned to co-cre8 to manage the programme that would deliver a network of participating food service operators, waste collectors and alliances the wider supply chain that could recycle cups on an industrial scale and which would go to market under The Cup Collective banner.
Beginning first in Brussels, the partners began canvassing hospitality and food service businesses, of all sizes, as well as major transport hubs and retail outlets where beverage cups would be in use. At the same time, it also sought out buy-in from their respective facilities management and waste collection providers.
Understanding that a key component of the success of the programme was the ability to collect and segregate cups at source, co-cre8 was also able to supply tried and tested cup recycling stations, suitable for both retail and transport hubs, that would be free from contamination.
Access to data was also critical, so that brands could report back on the volume of cups collected and recycled and comply with the new legislation. co-cre8 also now operates a sack-tracking system that not only provides real-time data on the collection process but also an exact weight per sack for each customer site
The announcement of The Cup Collective was made public September 2022 and in early December 2022 it was formally launched at an event in Brussels with participation from across the breadth of the supply chain.
Just a month after the announcement, the initiative had gathered support from the Belgian national railway company (SNCB) and McDonald’s. Flagship outlets in prime locations across the city also confirmed their partnership, as have a wide range of outlets in Brussels-Midi and North railway stations and the City 2 shopping centre.
co-cre8’s cup recycling stations are also making huge savings for each and every participating customer. Typically, cup waste was being charged by volume. Now that cups are now stacked, instead of bagged loose, they recycling stations deliver a 5:1 volume reduction which is now reflected in collection costs. Its still early days for The Cup Collective but demand for the solution, which can be easily replicated across Europe, is translating in huge interest from all across the continent. The Netherlands is due to come on stream in early 2023 with more countries to follow.
Peter Goodwin, Managing Director and Co-founder of co-cre8 said:
“Bringing industry together to make a truly industrial scale and viable programme in The Cup Collective has seen true collaboration across the industry, we are now looking forward to seeing it grow and expand to show the true circularity of paper cups and capturing their value”.
Visit The Cup Collective website here