Biffa has launched a nationwide recycling service set to keep ‘millions’ of hot and cold takeaway beverage cups out of general waste in the UK.

Over 62 million single-use tea, coffee, and cold drinks cups are said to be thrown away in the UK every week. Many of them are thought to contain cardboard that could be recycled if it entered the correct waste stream.

Additionally, all businesses with at least ten members of full-time staff that sell takeaway drinks in fibre-based, single-use cups will be legally obligated to recycle them from October 2025.

Biffa now aims to give cafés, restaurants, service stations, supermarkets, and other mainland businesses access to a fully integrated disposal, collection, and recycling solution for used cups. It offers cup disposal points, bags, and bins, as well as compliance advice and other practical and technical assistance.

Similarly to its existing disposable vape recycling service, Biffa hopes that its takeaway cup recycling scheme will help businesses pursue circularity and comply with upcoming legislation. Recycling cups at end-of-life is expected to reduce carbon emissions and conserve natural resources by repurposing virgin materials.

“Far too many recyclable takeaway cups end up in general waste, preventing perfectly good cardboard from being transformed back into new products,” said Daniel Barrett from Biffa’s Reactive Services. “But despite the eagerness of many businesses to become more sustainable and compliant, the UK lacked sufficient options for the convenient and efficient nationwide recycling of these cups.

“Now, alongside our disposable vape recycling service and our leading position on surplus redistribution, our takeaway cup scheme shows how we’re actively reducing waste by helping people and businesses re-use, recycle and redistribute as much of it as possible so we can all leave a smaller footprint.”

Paul Sanderson, chief executive of The Recycling Association, added: “Many takeaway cups contain a high-quality cardboard that can be recycled into new cardboard or paper products. Collection schemes like this ensure that these cups can be kept from general waste so that they can be recycled at specialist mills.

“At The Recycling Association, we welcome anything that helps to increase recycling of products, while also ensuring we maintain high-quality recycling of easier-to-recycle packaging.”

In another development, James Cropper reports that its CupCycling technology can recycle both the plastic and paper from disposable coffee cups, allowing for a whole coffee cup to be recycled.

Smurfit Kappa and Valpak have also developed a freestanding cardboard cup recycling box to contain and transport empty beverage containers to waste collectors, then be recycled all together.

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