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Ground breaking initiative will increase recycling rates for paper cups

Huhtamaki, global specialist in packaging for food and drink, has collaborated with 13 other fully funding signatories from across the supply chain for disposable paper cups, to sign an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK). This is a major step forward for recycling and will rapidly accelerate the rates of recycling across the UK.


Huhtamaki along with a number of other manufacturers, high street coffee shops, restaurant chains, a national distributor and raw material supplier have created a working partnership with ACE UK, the owner of one of a handful of facilities in the UK which can recycle paper cups. This new partnership will introduce a more widely accessible recycling infrastructure and solution, enabling consumers the opportunity to dispose of their cups responsibly.


The agreement will allow consumers to take their used cups to be recycled. ACE UK owns and manages a network of 382 Bring Banks covering 97 local authorities across the UK. These are facilities where consumers can take used paper cups which will then be delivered to ACE UK’s recycling facility in Halifax for reprocessing.  In the second phase of the programme a further 33 recycling points across an additional eight local authorities are scheduled.


Consumers will have access to the Bring Bank network and will be able to take used cups to these recycling points from where they will be taken to ACE’s recycling facility in Halifax for re-processing. This will deliver a marked increase in the opportunities for cups to be recycled. Additionally, waste contractors will be able to deliver used cups direct to ACE’s facility for recycling.


This initiative has been driven by  the members above all of which are also members of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG). Huhtamaki’s Global Category Director for Speciality Coffee, and chair of the PCRRG, Neil Whittall, has been part of the team leading discussions on driving and implementing this innovative and game-changing recycling programme.


Whittall has previously headed the Foodservice Packaging Association and has been instrumental in driving various industry initiatives on recycling and sustainability. “This collaborative industry approach, in partnership with ACE UK and funded by the signatories is the first of its kind”, said Whittall. “It represents the single most significant advance in the UK waste management infrastructure that I can recall in my 25 years in the industry. It will deliver a substantial and measurable advance in the number of cups which are reprocessed.”


He continued, “There is undoubtedly still a significant amount of work that we at Huhtamaki and the entire supply chain can do to further improve recycling rates for our products and Huhtamaki is now focused on the next steps. Working with the other operators in the supply chain, as with this initiative, ensures that our learning, knowledge and experience is shared and this in turn improves the end results for all stakeholders from the suppliers to the retailers and,  crucially, for the end consumers.”


In fact, as alluded to by Whittall, under the existing agreement the long term focus will be to get cups included in domestic kerbside recycling and to link into waste management company collection programmes. ACE UK has a proven track record of increasing kerbside collection of beverage cartons for recycling. The next step would be to use ACE UK’s kerbside collection system which covers 90% of local authorities. Huhtamaki and the other fully funding signatories will draw on their experience and existing relationships with local authorities and waste management companies to help the group accelerate the delivery of these aims.


This collaborative agreement is designed to deliver a long-term solution which complements and builds on the recycling activities achieved by the industry so far. It supports the delivery of the objectives of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group and Foodservice Packaging Association’s ‘Paper Cup Manifesto’ and other pilot schemes. The agreement can be extended to more companies from the paper cup supply chain to further accelerate recycling opportunities.


Huhtamaki manufactures a complete range of products for the UK and European market including single use recyclable and compostable cups.


For more information, please contact Becci Eplett, Marketing Manager at Huhtamaki UK at