Helping Unisan to understand the carbon footprint of one of their cup recycling bins by assessing the production process from cradle-to-gate.

Unisan offers recycling bins and hygiene solutions to businesses, providing off-the-shelf and bespoke products tailored to their customers’ exact requirements.


Unisan has been working with The National Cup Recycling Scheme, of which Valpak is the scheme administrator, since its inception in 2018, providing paper cup recycling stations and bins to the scheme’s voluntary signatories, such as Costa Coffee, McDonalds, and RoadChef.

Unisan is conscious of its impact on the environment and wanted to understand the cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of the production of its cup recycling bins, so the information can be communicated to potential clients. They commissioned our team of expert consultants to carry out this analysis.

Unisort Cup Collector (Mk1) McDonalds

Valpak Consulting was engaged to carry out a detailed assessment of Unisan’s MK1 Coffee Cup Collector to quantify its carbon footprint and provide transparency to Unisan’s prospective customers.

The methodology Valpak consultants use is compliant with ISO guidelines and the four key steps taken to calculate the unit’s carbon footprint were as follows:

  1. A clear definition of the goal and scope of the project
  2. Product data collection – the raw materials required for the production of the unit, and life cycle modelling using all environmental inputs and outputs
  3. Analysing environmental impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, such as energy and waste at the product assembly stage to transportation of component parts
  4. Conclusions of the study outlined in a comprehensive report

The team analysed the upstream impacts of the unit – raw material extraction, processing, transport to the assembly location, and the assembly of the product. In addition to the product’s carbon footprint, Valpak considered the impact and potential carbon savings of cup recycling.

Unisort Cup Collector (Mk1) Costa

Once the assessment had taken place, Valpak Consulting identified that the carbon benefit of collecting cups was greater than the carbon impact of the production of one Unisan MK1 Cup Collector, once it has facilitated the recycling of 779 paper cups or 819 coated cups (with the assumption that these cups would otherwise be landfilled or sent for energy recovery).

This conclusion assumes a per-cup carbon footprint of 0.061 kgCO2e for a paper cup, and 0.051 kgCO2e for a coated cup and a carbon reduction from recycling of 46% for paper cups, and 38% for coated cups*.


* Cup carbon footprint and carbon saving from cup recycling identified in a study by product-testing company Intertek.

We are delighted to share that our Unisort Cup Collector (Mk1) underwent a comprehensive evaluation by Valpak. With their invaluable assistance, we can now offer potential customers full transparency regarding the carbon footprint of our unit. It has been a rewarding experience collaborating with the Valpak team, and we recommend their services to anyone seeking to quantify the carbon footprint of a product or service.