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Highland pilot aims to tackle scourge of single-use paper cup waste

By Philip Murray

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Mountains of paper cups that currently go into the bin in the Highlands could soon be recycled instead thanks to the launch of a new recycling initiative.

More than 200 million single-use cups are binned across Scotland every year, and only four per cent of those are recycled.

This is in large part due to the waterproof plastic lining on them, which makes them difficult to recycle as they need to be collected and processed separately from many other recyclables.

But now, as part of its efforts to reduce waste and consumption of single-use items and packaging, the Highland Community Waste Partnership (HCWP) has announced plans to work with the National Cup Recycling Scheme (NCRS) to bring their new Cup Box to the Highlands.

The new Cup Box is being piloted to test how this model works in both remote and rural settings, as well as more urban areas like Inverness.

The pilot is open to both businesses that sell single-use cups, as well as any workplaces or community hubs that would like to collect cups for recycling. Pilot participants will be offered two free boxes to try, as well as supporting guidance and campaign materials.

The initiative forms part of the Partnership’s Conscious Consumption campaign, which aims to raise awareness around the way that we consume, and how we can reduce our environmental impact by making better choices. People will be encouraged to #RecycleCupsSeparately adding to calls to #ChoosetoReuse and #TryRefill in order to reduce the amount of single-use packaging that is used and wasted through our consumption habits.

Related: Households across the north will get an additional wheelie bin Highland Council targets recycling boost following successful £6.5m bid

Georgina Massouraki, HCWP coordinator at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Single-use cups are a cornerstone of convenient on-the-go food and drink culture. However, from production through to disposal, these items contribute to Scotland’s litter and climate emergencies.

“Eighty per cent of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the things that we make, buy and throw away, often after one use. More than 200 million single-use cups are used and discarded in Scotland each year, most of which end up in landfill or as litter. Ideally, we would love for everyone to #ChooseToReuse with a reusable cup but we know that’s not always possible.

“Therefore, we want to ensure that any single-use cups that are used can be recycled by businesses or consumers, to help reduce their environmental impact.”

Hannah Osman, national cup recycling manager at Valpak, added: "Valpak has developed the Cup Box for small and medium size businesses across the whole of the UK who are finding it difficult to set up cup collections due to where they are located or the quantity of cups they want recycled.

“By collaborating and providing funding to The Highland Waste Community Partnership the Cup Box is helping to ensure the recycling of paper cups from hard-to-reach areas and communities in Scotland. We are excited to see how communities engage with the Cup Box and look forward to scaling this out across more communities in the Highlands.”

The initiative aims to create a network of cup recycling points to serve local communities and reduce the number of single-use cups sent to landfill, continuing Keep Scotland Beautiful’s efforts to reduce single-use cup waste including Take It Back promoting cup recycling in Glasgow and Dundee and Cup Movement® in the Highlands, which made it easier for people to choose to reuse across the NC500.

Pilot participants will be offered two Cup Boxes to try out for free and support with implementation.

Anyone interested in piloting the Cup Box in their business, workplace or community is encouraged to get in touch. Whether you retail cups and want to reduce the impact of your cup waste or are interested in trying cup recycling in your workplace or community, the Highland Community Waste Partnership would like to hear from you.

To learn more and sign up for the pilot visit www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/highland-cup-recycling.

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