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The UK’s Annual 2.5 Billion Paper Cups Use Could Be an Environmental Disaster Waiting To Happen

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A new study has revealed that the UK goes through 2.5 billion paper cups every year, with only one in 400 ever being recycled.

Research carried out by Intertek, a product-testing company, has painted a stark picture for the UK and its push to becoming environmentally focused, revealing billions of paper coffee and drinks cups are not being recycled and are causing untold damage to the environment – despite retailers revealing efforts to produce eco-friendly alternatives.

See: The National Trust Announce They Are Ditching Plastic for Paper In Its Membership Cards

intertek paper cup research


See: Waitrose Reveal They Are Tackling Food Waste With a Unique Donation Scheme

The new study is claimed to be the first to measure the environmental impact of producing, using and disposing of all types of single-use coffee cups.

The study, combined with 2017 research by a UK government audit on the environment, found that one in 400 cups end up being recycled, with the rest all finding their way straight to landfill sites – an alarming statistic given the UK governments push to recycling all single-use cups by 2023.

The research suggests the volume of wasted single-use coffee and drink cups produces an annual carbon footprint equivalent to over 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, or what 33,300 cars would produce in a year.

One major stumbling block, the government has found when trying to push big coffee and single-use cup companies to find environmentally friendly alternatives, is all current compostable or recyclable cups cannot be recycled conventionally. They need to be transported to one of the UK’s high-temperature composting locations, which in turn increases their overall carbon footprint.

Frugalpac, who produce an alternative cup called the Frugal Cup, which is made almost entirely from recycled paper and who part funded the Intertek study, believes if the UK were to move completely to recycled paper cups it would save a million trees a year in Britain and more than 200 million worldwide.

In addition to the paper cup problem, the independent study revealed an estimated 1.5 billion litres of water go into making the cups.

For more information on the Intertek paper cup research visit Intertek online.

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