In a bid to reduce plastic waste, Chiltern Railways has announced that it will be the first train operator to recycle coffee cups at stations.
Currently, across the UK, just one in 400 of the 2.5bn disposable cups used each year is recycled. With this in mind, Chiltern, an Arriva UK Trains company, decided to tackle the issue as part of its commitment to addressing environmental challenges and hopes to set the standard for British train operators. The company will work in partnership with Simply Cups – the only dedicated and workable cup recycling scheme currently operating in the UK.
The difficulty up until now is that the cups are fused with polyethylene to make them waterproof, however this material cannot be separated out again at a standard recycling mill. The scheme will see the installation of special bins on stations to encourage customers to segregate their coffee cup waste into three different categories – lids, liquids and cups. Collecting the cups as soon as the consumer has finished their drink minimises contamination; the waste will be removed by Simply Cups and taken to a specialist recycling centre to be given a second life and turned into functional new products like pens and notepads, which Chiltern plans to incorporate into its branded merchandise.
Alan Riley, Customer Services Director for Chiltern Railways, said: “With the knowledge that over 2.5 billion paper cups are making their way into landfills and incineration each year, we feel it is important to play our part. We are creating a new template for the rail industry and providing our customers with a way to reduce their plastic waste. This scheme is unprecedented at stations and we’re proud to be championing it on behalf of our customers and generations to come”
Peter Goodwin, Cofounder of Simply Cups, said: “For train and station operators, single-use coffee cups have quickly become a major constituent of their overall waste. Recognising this, and a need for a practical recycling solution, we’ve been delighted to work closely with Chiltern Railways to help them implement new processes that will mean their used cups will be segregated, bagged and then collected before being reprocessed at one of our recycling facilities. What was once a problematic waste stream will become a valuable raw material for our range of functional recycled products”.
The scheme is part of Chiltern’s ongoing 2018 Continuous Improvement Plan, which will see a range of customer led investments made at stations and onboard trains. So far, £2 million has been invested to install new ticket vending machines at stations. The plan also includes a £1.5 million investment in on-station and on-train enhancements which will be announced throughout the year.