You could soon be able to recycle the disposable coffee cup you cling to on your daily commute, thanks to a major new waste reduction programme from Network Rail.
The rail and station network operator today marked the UN’s World Environment Day by announcing plans to ban retailers at its managed stations from supplying plastic cutlery and cups and introduce a coffee cup recycling scheme by the end of 2020.
It also pledged to expand a successful trial undertaken with recycling specialist bio-bean to collect used coffee grounds from station outlets and turn it into a clean fuel for the home.
The company said 94 per cent of its waste was already diverted from landfill, but it now wanted to work with the retailers and food outlets in its managed stations to further curb its environmental impacts.
“Network Rail has an important responsibility to the British public which goes much further than travel,” said Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail. “We manage Britain’s biggest and busiest stations and we have to ensure we are using that role to make sensible and ethical decisions to protect our environment. That’s why today we’re proud to announce that we will be tackling some of the biggest sustainability issues we face head on.”
The company said it had already written to the 150 retail brands based at its 20 managed stations informing them of the upcoming ban on certain single use plastics and is piloting a behind the scenes coffee cup recycling scheme at Victoria and Paddington stations. The trial sees cups collected from station retailers and placed into special bins in staff-only areas before being taken offsite to be reprocessed into new materials for benches, decking and even reusable cups.
The move could have a significant impact. More than 20 million cups of coffee are sold to the 900 million people who use Network Rail managed stations each year and separate trials have suggested recycling points are needed in public spaces to increase the chances of disposable cups being recycled.