Camden launches project to recycle 570,000 paper coffee cups

Veolia and Camden Climate Change Alliance commence their mission to recycle over half a million disposable coffee cups through their Camden Recycles Cups project.

Funded by a £50,000 grant from Hubbub’s The Cup Fund, this #InTheLoop scheme will support paper cup recycling targets right around London, helping to tackle unsustainable throwaway culture and promote recycling. 

In the UK, almost 3 billion coffee cups are used yearly, yet only 4% of them are currently being recycled. To encourage waste reduction and improve recycling in Camden, Veolia and Camden Climate Change Alliance, Camden Council’s sustainability network, developed a specific cup recycling programme. 

Camden Recycles Cups brings coffee cup recycling to offices and coffee shops, offering businesses and independent cafes across the borough the opportunity to receive free cup recycling collections. To tackle cup recycling on-the-go, Veolia street cleansing operatives will also collect and recycle paper cups separately, reducing contamination of on-street bins.

We are pleased to commence activities for the Camden Recycles Cups project that will see the recycling of 570,000 coffee cups in Camden. All of these will go to dedicated recycling facilities, where the outer cardboard layer will be separated from the plastic lining, so it can be made into something new, closing the loop entirely.

This programme is one of the many ways we’re working with Camden Council to promote sustainable waste behaviours, and we hope it leads residents to take the next step and use reusable cups as the first choice, reducing disposable cup waste as much as possible.
Michael Clarke
General Manager for Veolia - Central London

Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden's Environment, said:

“Every small change we make in our day to day lives helps in the fight against climate change.”

“Using a reusable cup for takeaway coffee will reduce the amount of waste we collect. However, when it comes to takeaway coffee cups, we understand there is still a lot of confusion around how to correctly dispose of them and we want to make it easier for people to use the right bins.”

“As part of The Cup Fund, we will be placing coffee cup recycling points in offices and coffee shops, as well as asking our street sweepers to collect them separately, so they can be correctly recycled.”

“Climate change is an issue for everyone on this planet and by working together we can tackle it, one coffee cup at a time.”


To mark the launch, an immersive art installation arrived on the Riverwalk in London’s Bankside made of 5,555 paper cups – the number used every minute in the UK. 222 of these are coloured black to represent the 4% of cups which are currently estimated to be recycled in the UK. At 3 metres tall and illuminated at night, the structure is unmissable, and visitors can walk inside it and it’s also wheelchair accessible.

The installation heralds a major push to improve paper cup recycling in high footfall areas across the capital with the aim of recycling 4 million more paper cups a year. The schemes are launched as new research released by the environmental charity, Hubbub, reveals the public are still confused about paper cup recycling. Three out of four people wrongly believe that paper cups can be recycled in the same way as other paper and card. However, because cups have a plastic lining that stops hot drinks from leaking, they need to be collected separately from other paper goods.