Disposable coffee cups are a major contributor to Australia’s landfill, but a new initiative recycling them into bench seats and kerbing is looking to recruit Illawarra businesses.
The company rolling out the program, Closed Loop Environmental Solutions, already recycles used coffee cups in Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle from 7-Eleven stores, commercial buildings and caterers.
It will now use a $115,000 state government grant to provide public bins at more convenient locations across the Illawarra and major cities in NSW.
This means more coffee drinkers won’t feel the guilt of having their cup contribute to landfill and instead their waste will be upcycled.
Closed Loop marketing manager Brendan Lee said the funding would help the company purchase specialised recycling bins, which will be available from next year.
“We want to put the bins at universities, in hospitals, at shopping centres, at sporting fields and other public locations,” he said. “We would be delighted to hear from people and companies in Wollongong that want to participate in the program.”
The recycling bins will be placed next to the standard recycling bins at shopping centres for example.
“The lid will go into a recycling bin, the liquid will be tipped into the centre deposit container and six tubes will be inside the bin so people can dispose of the cup,” Mr Lee said. “Then the waste will be collected and transported to be recycled.
“We had interest from places that would accumulate a large volume of coffee cups such as shopping centres and now we can provide them with a recycling service.”
Australians use about one billion disposable coffee cups each year, which is about 2,700,000 cups thrown out every day.
Simply Cups rolled out designated collection tubes and bins as well as the services to collect the paper cups at 200 7-Eleven stores in 2017.
Residents can dispose of their cups at West Wollongong, Towradgi, Berkeley and Albion Park Rail Northbound stores.
“We ask people to flip the coffee cup lid into the yellow recycling bin, tip out the liquids into the sink and place the cup into the tube, which can store up to 300 cups before they are collected to be recycled,” Mr Lee said.
The cups are then collected and taken to recycling plants to be combined with other plastic materials, that would otherwise go into landfill, to create a resin suitable to upcycle into new products such as bench seats, kerbing and car park stops.
Mr Lee said whilst the tube containers were a good start, many people were not near a sink to dispose of the liquid therefore they could not recycle their cups. The new bins will change that.
Mr Lee said the need to recycle takeaway coffee cups was thrust into the limelight when the ABC show War on Waste aired.
“Simply Cups’ program was featured on the show,” he said. “We started with only a handful of business using the collection tubes and within 12 months we had collected one million cups and four and half months after that we reached two million cups.
“Now we have 300 stores that have the collection tubes thanks to our partnership with 7-Eleven.
“Public awareness about the fact we can’t recycle coffee cups through the regularly waste collection is growing.
“Now with the funding we can put the bins into public places and continue to spread the message further.”