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After having been awarded investment through The Cup Fund towards the end of 2019, Bywaters has this week begun to install coffee cup recycling solutions at three prestigious universities across London.

The Hubbub and Starbucks Cup Fund

Environmental charity Hubbub has teamed up with Starbucks to provide funding for businesses that want to help “kickstart cup recycling across the UK”. The result is The Cup Fund, which uses money raised through Starbucks’ 5p single-use coffee cup charge to award grants for innovative projects across the country.

Successful applicants receive financial backing of between £50,000 and £100,000, alongside ongoing support from Hubbub’s environmental team, enabling the implementation of ambitious projects which can make a real difference to the way in which we approach the environmental problems posed by single-use cups.

Bywaters was awarded one of these grants back in September 2019 in order to implement a coffee cup recycling scheme in three London universities for which we already provide waste management services: The London School of Economics, Queen Mary University London, and The University of Westminster. After months of preparation, this week will see us upgrade the infrastructure across these three educational institutions and overhaul their recycling services.

What Bywaters Will be Doing

Bywaters has used the money awarded to us through The Cup Fund to purchase a wide variety of new recycling equipment and provide a range of attitude-changing discounts and educational services such as:

  • Three state-of-the-art reverse vending machines
  • Bespoke coffee cup shaped recycling bins for each site
  • Specialised branded recyclable coffee cups
  • Discounts on hot drinks for those recycling their cups
  • Beach cleans and plastic fishing events to raise awareness of the importance of recycling
  • Guest lectures from environmentalists
  • Prize competitions featuring sustainable alternatives to coffee cups and gift vouchers

The reverse vending machines on each site will allow students to receive a discount on their next hot drink when they recycle their coffee cup, and also enter them into prize draws to win items such as reusable KeepCups. These machines accept all coffee cups, including the new sustainable cups we are providing in partnership with Frugalpac across all the campuses.

Educating Students as well as Improving Infrastructure

On top of this investment in each university’s recycling infrastructure, we have set aside some of the funding to attract environmentalists and sustainability professionals to give guest lectures in order to educate students about recycling – and also to provide events such as beach cleans and plastic fishing to help them see first-hand why it is so important that we move away from our throwaway culture.

In partnership with Frugalpac we will also be making a video showing the journey of a coffee cup from the manufacturing process all the way through being used and then collected by our electric van to be baled at our facility and recycled. Bywaters and the universities will be able to promote this to help people in the wider world understand the recycling process.

Changing Attitudes to Coffee Cup Recycling

Through the initiatives we are putting in place we aim to make coffee cup recycling a social norm for university students and staff by highlighting the overconsumption of disposable coffee cups and promoting educational materials about recycling.

Recycling coffee cups is notoriously difficult as in order for the paper cups not to disintegrate they are lined with a thin plastic, meaning they cannot be recycled along with conventional paper products and have to be sent to specialist mills where the components can be separated and then sorted into different recycling streams.

As recently as 2018, 99.75% of coffee cups in the UK were not being recycled – meaning around 2.5 billion coffee cups were being thrown away with general waste each year. The point of The Cup Fund is to change attitudes to coffee cup recycling, and we’re delighted to have been awarded the chance to help them in this mission.

Improving Recycling and Encouraging Reusables

Alongside promoting the recycling of disposable cups being used, Bywaters is ensuring that the prizes offered in our student competitions will include reusable alternatives, and be encouraging the use of these through all our comms and social media activities.

We want to ensure that anyone who drinks coffee out of a disposable cup recycles it, and that an increasing number of students carry reusable cups around campus. Only through approaching both of these aspects simultaneously can we deliver the change we’re committed to seeing.

Bywaters is proud to be putting these initiatives in place, and to be leading the way in the waste management sector when it comes to fighting waste from single-use coffee cups. We’re a company that always looks to think differently and help educate people to improve their recycling practices, and this is exactly what we will be able to do with help from The Cup Fund.



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