Chiltern Railways is the train company that operates passenger services from its central London terminus, at London Marylebone, along the M40 corridor to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, as well as long-distance services to the West Midlands.
The company has strong track-record of implementing sustainability initiatives and consistently achieves high levels of customer satisfaction, having been rated the top franchise operator in the 2019 Which? and National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) customer polls.
Coffee cup waste has become a major issue for many transport hub operators. The voluminous cups clog up bins on trains and at stations, often contaminating bins set aside for recycling, due to customer confusion. Chiltern Railways, together with its facility management company, Aktrion, had become wise to the issue as well as the growing demand from consumers for recycling solutions. This, together with the number of coffee shops already retailing from its stations, convinced them that cup recycling was the responsible thing to do.
With as many 43,000 customers entering the station every day, many of whom arrive or depart with a single-use cup, Marylebone required a bespoke solution, and so turned to the UK’s most established cup collection and recycling company, Simply Cups. Chiltern Railways appreciated the company’s ethics and flexible approach and decided that Simply Cups would be the right fit.
From the outset, security was seen as a major consideration in establishing dedicated recycling bins on the station’s concourse. Over the course of the next six months, Chiltern, Aktrion and Simply Cups worked closely together with the Department of Transport to design a new type of cup bin, that was functional, robust, mobile and met all safety protocols. After a number of prototypes, and tweaks in between, the final version passed all the regulations; and which has now set a precedent for all bins installed at transport hubs.
Ten new mobile tube bins were then ordered and strategically placed around the station’s concourse, close to either exit points or coffee shops. Each bin pod contains three tubes; one for cups, one for lids and one for liquids. A whole new regime was then required to regularly maintain the bins, as well as emptying the tubes into the sacks provided. Each week, Simply Cups would then collect the bagged cups, which would be then sent on for reprocessing into new, functional products.
The cup recycling initiative was launched at Marylebone Station on 12th February – the first transport hub in the UK to do so. The event was covered by Sky News, BBC London and BBC Radio, and was also featured in the London press and trade media.
A promotional campaign, to encourage commuters to recycle their cups is on-going, with information screens on trains and educational events have been at Marylebone station.
So far, around 150,000 cups have been captured and recycled into new, functional products, which otherwise would have gone to landfill or incineration. The cups bins have stood up well to the rigours of public recycling, and are soon to be refurbished, including new up-graded tubes.
Chiltern Railways now has ambitions to roll-the scheme up the line to include other stations such as Birmingham Snow Hill, Banbury and High Wycombe [pending budget decisions].
Eleni Jordan, Commercial & Customer Strategy Director at Chiltern Railways, said:
“We’re proud to be the first railway station in the UK to initiate cup recycling, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Aktrion and Simply Cups.
We’ve been really impressed with Simply Cups’ can-do attitude and determination to find solutions to the challenges that busy railway stations pose
Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and it’s great to see these cups being repurposed into useful everyday products”