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Tackling the Covid recycling challenge of single use cups with Amberol’s Café Bin

Tackling the Covid recycling challenge of single use cups with Amberol’s Café Bin

From disposable masks to disposable drinks cups, one of the side issues of Covid-19 has been the impact on litter and recycling. While of course it pales into insignificance against hospital admissions and infection rates, the occurrence of rising littering rates in some locations is still a serious issue that needs addressing.

The pre-pandemic drive for people to bring their own re-usable cups for take away drinks has stopped in its tracks due to concerns around Covid infection, meaning that take away outlets are now using only disposable cups. Plus, with much of the UK in the highest echelons of tier 3 where only take away hospitality outlets are able to operate, usage of disposable drinks containers has rocketed.

Meeting a recycling challenge – on the go

Due to the properties of the materials they are made from, single use drinks cups are traditionally more difficult to recycle than many other products; something that the drinks industry has struggled with. Which is one of the reasons why Amberol developed the Café Bin in 2019 to address some of the specific challenges around recycling single use cups.

Although take away drinks are some of the few treats available to shoppers when out and about, many outlets have also had to battle with the impact of reduced footfall in sectors usually frequented by office workers, as well as enforced closure during two national lockdowns.

Establishing the right habits around litter disposal

“One of the most effective ways of tackling litter is by establishing the right disposal habits,” comments Amberol’s MD, Patience Atkinson-Gregory. “There is a concern that much of the good work promoting the practice of using one’s own cup could be undone by the new habits established during the pandemic.

“So, while the pandemic continues, it’s incredibly important to ensure that we have appropriate facilities in place, such as the Café Bin to enable the recycling of single use cups.”

Collaborative design to ensure fitness for purpose

The very first Café Bins were placed in St Marks Shopping Centre in Lincoln in 2019 after a period of trial and consultation with centre staff and the Amberol design team.

The multi-stream Café Bin has three separate compartments: one for lids, one for liquids and one for the cup itself. Although it is a more complex process to recycle disposable cups due to the plastic lining which prevents liquid leaking out, it is possible. The cups have to be collected separately from other paper products and taken to dedicated cup recycling sites so the different layers can be divided. It has a 90 litre capacity for cups, 10 litres for lids and 7 litres for liquids.

Aware of the need for sustainability, other initiatives are being rolled out to address the issue of recyclability and single use cups. The latest innovation is the launch of the ButterflyCup, an all in one design cup which doesn’t have a separate lid, and which is being unveiled at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust centres across the UK during December.

Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups were thrown away across the world each year, with only 1 in 400 recycled.

The Café litter bin is one of a range of recycling and non-recycling bins developed and manufactured by Amberol. Call 01773 830 930 or email sales@amberol.co.uk for more information about how Amberol bins can help tackle litter in your area.