Put sustainability at the forefront

David Attenborough’s warning this year that the future of our planet now depends on us, inspired the nation and served as a call to action for businesses and individuals. With the disposable cup and single use plastics in the firing line, vending can and must do more to adopt sustainable practices.

Currently the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, while up to half a million are littered every day. Less than one percent of the cups are recycled but at least half of consumers believe they are being properly recycled all or most of the time. From this it’s clear the scale of the problem we face is immense

and the government is facing increasing pressure to do something. While recent announcements of a consultation on the banning of plastic straws may be a step in the right direction, the government stopped short of introducing the highly anticipated ‘latte levy’ in the autumn budget.

While Chancellor Phillip Hammond came under fire from some

quarters for hesitating on the issue of plastic pollution, the Automatic Vending Association (AVA) warned that any such tax could have negative consequences for the vending sector. The AVA is instead calling for the industry to step up the collection and recycling of cups as “closed” workplace sites ensure vending is ideally placed to recycle effectively. Some vending operators and suppliers are already giving serious consideration to the issue and weighing up how to act. Alice Cauldwell of Refreshment Systems said: “A part of the

problem is the lack of disposal methods available to consumers using these disposable cups. With limited facilities that are capable of the varying processing methods, it is important to research if it is possible to have your waste transported to the relevant plants for your chosen form of sustainable disposal, whether that be recycling, biodegrading or composting. The plastic polyethylene lining in cups is often singled out as the biggest hurdle in making cups easily recyclable, though industry experts explain the lining is necessary to ensure vending cups can hold both hot and cold drinks safety. Stressing that the cups could still be effectively recycled,

marketing executive for Huhtamaki UK, Clare Moulson said: “They must first be collected and then sent to an appropriate recycling facility. Operators should contact their waste contractors to discuss options. Those operators considering compostable packaging should bear in mind that it will have to be collected and sent to an industrial composting facility.”

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