The widely trailed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fronted show blasted the recycling record of paper cups, which represents 0.7% of paper-based packaging waste volume.
Fearnley-Whittingstall also criticised the recently launched manifesto, which he claimed was “woolly” and allows high street coffee shops and the supply chain to “shirk the responsibility”.
But Martin Kersh, executive director at the FPA, hit back saying that the manifesto, coordinated by the FPA and the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group, was realistic and “far from woolly”.
“The objective is not at this stage numeric, simply because more research is required and the Manifesto signatories anticipate that concrete figures will be applied once that research is completed,” he said. “The commonly used style of paper cup is currently recyclable. To be recycled it needs to be collected and sent to the appropriate recycling facility. The programme did not discuss what was happening to the cup after it is placed in a high street bin. The programme suggested that retailers should use a cup that can be recycled in all paper recycling facilities in the same way as newspapers and a specific cup was referenced on the programme.
“Whilst initiatives are always welcomed that lead to an increase in recycling provided they are scalable, safe and financially and environmentally viable, the task the industry faces, whatever the cup, is to get that cup from consumer to recycler efficiently. This means increasing the collection of cups in a condition that makes them easier to recycle. They need to be empty and not disposed of with lots of different items inside them like a ‘mini waste bin’ as this contaminates the waste-stream.”
Fearnley-Whittingstall’s high profile campaign on the recycling of coffee cups began in March when he claimed that big name retailers, including Starbucks and Costa, were misleading consumers by placing the recycled logo on cups when the recycling levels were so low.
Kersh added that to boost recycling more consumer information is needed along with more schemes and more facilities.
He added: “Any increase in paper cup recycling must also be balanced against the reality that recycling is not energy neutral – it takes energy, water, chemical agents, transport and labour to collect, segregate, clean and reprocess and therefore any scheme has to be economically viable.
“The Paper Cup Manifesto is a positive example of industry taking action and a visible demonstration of its willingness to collaborate. The coffee to go sector is buoyant and set for continued growth as today’s convenience life-styles are here to stay.
“It’s all too easy to dismiss the Manifesto but recycling is complex and it is only by bringing the entire supply chain together real progress will be made.”
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