Coffee cup recycling goes national – with some extra bells and whistles

24 November 2020

The Simply Cups coffee cup recycling program received a welcome boost this week as a grant recipient of the Federal Government’s Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

The $697,000 in funding will be spent establishing an additional 400 collection points in existing states and expanding the program to include 60 sites in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, making this a truly national service.

The funding will be used to work back up the supply chain to involve coffee cup manufacturers in assisting the delivery of circular economy solutions. It will also be used to work down the supply chain to improve and develop a variety of products made from recycled cups.

The Simply Cups program, established in 2017 and run by Closed Loop Environmental Solutions, has already diverted 15 million cups from landfill, but this is just the tip of the iceberg according to Managing Director, Rob Pascoe.

“More than 1 billion coffee cups are used by Australians every year”, said Mr Pascoe. “The growth and support for the Simply Cups program has been phenomenal over the first three years, but I think we all know that we have a long way to go.

While we are all becoming more conscious of avoiding single-use items, coffee cup use continues to generate recycling challenges due to the plastic lining of these cups. We are excited that this grant provides us with the opportunity to work with packaging manufacturers and innovative Australian recyclers to improve the product stewardship elements of this program.”

The grant has been provided as part of the Morrison Government’s $10.5M Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, said that we are shifting the dial in Australia as we change our mindset to thinking about waste as a resource and move towards a more circular economy.

“Australians love their coffee, and this expanded product stewardship scheme for coffee cups by Simply Cups will reduce waste going to landfill, lift recycling rates and help consumers make a practical, positive difference for the environment”.

The timing of the grant coincides well with the expanded diversity of the Simply Cups program. Once limited to office buildings and a small number of 7-Eleven stores, Simply Cups collection points are increasingly popping up in shopping centres, universities and sporting events.

This is due, in no small way, to the huge support afforded to the program by 7-Eleven, who not only have increased the coffee cup recycling stations to 650 of their stores but are now subsidising the program into high schools.

7-Eleven CEO, Angus McKay said, “We’re one of Australia’s leading coffee retailers, and we acknowledge that we are part of the problem. We partnered with Simply Cups in 2018 to take the lead on this issue in Australia and are proud to be part of the solution to make take-away cups recyclable.”

The style of source separation systems delivered by Simply Cups is increasingly being embraced by Australians, in a similar vein to soft plastics, toner cartridges, batteries, paint tins and many more.

“Closed Loop has been facilitating and delivering these kinds of solutions for 20 years”, says Mr Pascoe.

We are thrilled by the support provided by the Federal Government and applaud the strategy adopted by banning the export of waste and stimulating the manufacturing sector so we can deliver circular economy solutions within our shores.

“There is still plenty of work to be done though, particularly working with the private and public sector responsible for procurement decisions as we need to see items made from recycled Australian materials preferenced in purchasing decisions.”