Paper Cup Recycling

In 2018, Valpak partnered with Costa Coffee to develop a new national initiative which aims to significantly increase the collection and recycling of paper cups in the UK.

Eight major retailers have joined together to form a voluntary industry collaboration which targets paper cups. The National Cup Recycling Scheme brings together retailers, waste collectors and brands to save paper cups from being sent to landfill or littered.

Paper Cup Recycling  

The challenge

The biggest challenge to increasing the number of paper cups recycled is the misconception that they cannot be recycled due to their plastic lining, however, this is not the case. Paper cups can be recycled, however, they need to be collected separately from other materials so that they can be sent for recycling.

There are five facilities in the UK which are able to accept polyethylene lined paper cups for recycling and together have the capacity to recycle all the cups consumed in the UK annually. The process for recycling paper cups is not dissimilar to the standard process for recycling other paper products.


Added to this is the challenge that most paper cups are consumed on-the-go. To help with this and grow the network for collecting paper cups, many of the retailers that are part of the Scheme have separate recycling points for paper cups in their stores, or are working toward installing these. They will accept any brand of cup!

Paper Cup Recycling  

The Solution

Three years ago, Valpak and Costa Coffee developed a new initiative to increase paper cup recycling in the UK. The National Cup Recycling Scheme works by making the collection of paper cups commercially attractive to waste collectors by offering a financial incentive of £70 per tonne of cups collected.

Valpak is the Scheme Administrator and provides support to those involved with the Scheme to drive an increase in cup recycling in the UK.

How To Get Involved

Valpak can find solutions for retailers, waste collectors and reprocessors.

Waste collectors can join the Scheme for free at any time. So far 25 waste collectors have signed up, with more set to join! 

If you would like further information about the scheme please email

Awards finalists

Our National Paper Cup Recycling Scheme was shortlisted for MRW's National Recycling Awards 2019 - Partnership Excellence - Commercial. We were extremely proud to be finalists in this category.

National Recycling Awards 2019 Finalist

The scheme was also shortlisted for Letsrecycle's Awards for Excellence - Waste management initiative in the retail, commercial and public sector. We were finalists in this category too!

Awards for Excellence Finalist

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