Canary Wharf has launched a campaign to recycle coffee cups, lids and grounds produced from the estate’s many brand outlets.

The sustainability team of Canary Wharf Management has declared the estate a Clean Coffee Zone where the hundreds of tons of waste will be recycled and repurposed, a first for London.

Steve Greig, co-managing director of Canary Wharf Management said: “With 900,000 visitors, each week, there’s a real opportunity to make a contribution to waste recovery.

“Thanks to our ‘Making Sustainability Real’ campaign, we ensure that over 80% of all the waste from the Canary Wharf estate goes to second life uses, which includes the donation of furniture and surplus food to community schemes. Coffee is just the next step.”

Arthur Kay, founder of Bio-Bean said: “We’ve built the world’s first coffee recycling factory in Cambridgeshire where grounds are turned into high performance winter fuels like our new Coffee Logs.

“This exciting new partnership means the waste grounds from the coffee that warms the visitors to Canary Wharf in the morning could soon be heating their home in the evenings – all while helping London reduce its carbon footprint.”

What they say

Coffee cups in carton

Cafe Brera: “As an independent café, it can be difficult to recycle every disposable item. By making Canary Wharf a Clean Coffee Zone, we can combine efforts and tackle waste recovery on the estate. We’re delighted to be part of the initiative and look forward to hearing about the difference it will make.’’

Peter Goodwin Director of Simply Cups , the company which will be recycling the coffee cups and lids said: “The sheer scale of the Canary Wharf Estate makes this a really exciting scheme, where we will see a ‘new norm’ with regards to coffee waste. The scheme keeps Canary Wharf at the forefront of innovation while delivering real value to its workers, visitors and residents.”

The launch

The commitment is launched under the #WakeUpAndSmellTheCoffee and an information stand will appear around the shopping malls every day this week, talking to people and encouraging them to support the campaign.

The team will also be joined by KeepCup, a reusable coffee cup provider.

To support the scheme, Café Brera will offer a free coffee to anyone who returns five empty coffee cups within a fortnight to one of their stores in Cabot Place or Jubilee Place.

  • Monday: Cabot Place
  • Tuesday: Canada Place
  • Wednesday: Waitrose
  • Thursday: Jubilee Place
  • Friday: Jubilee Place

The wider issue

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launches his campaign of awareness over coffee cup recycling

The throw-away culture for coffee cups was highlighted in 2016 by food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall .

He said at the time: “The truth is they are barely recyclable at all – in the everyday, commonly understood sense of the word. They cannot be recycled through any of the normal public waste collection services - who are consistently diverting them to be incinerated or sent to landfill.”

Facts and figures

• Canary Wharf produces about half-a-million cups a year and 300 tonnes of ground coffee, part of the 500,000 tonnes produced across the UK.

• It’s estimated that 2.5 billion “paper” coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. That’s almost 5,000 a minute, or 7 million per day.

• Fewer than than 6 million cups a year are recycled, less than one day’s worth and less than 1/4 of one percent.

Why can’t cups be recycled like paper?

Part of the problem is the polyethylene coating inside the cups. The paper makes them rigid and the plastic layer protects the paper from the hot drink. Only highly specialised recycling facilities can recycle the cups – there are just two in the UK.

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