Simply Cups is Australia’s largest coffee cup recycling program. Starting in May 2016, Simply Cups has collected and diverted over 2.5 million cups from landfill in less than 18 months.
Funding from the NSW Government will go towards diverting 110 tonnes, or approximately 11 million cups from landfill, and upcycle the cups into new products such as parking stoppers, kerbing and bench seats. Closed Loop aims to help Australia build a circular economy by transforming waste into resources.
“The next time your car hits a bump stop in a car park, you may well be ‘using’ recycled coffee cups,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said. “Recycling coffee cups is a high visibility issue we are working to resolve. The more coffee cups we recycle, the less that are littered - and that is a good thing for everyone.”
Australians love their coffee. It is estimated that we consume more than 1 billion disposable cups every year.
Sadly, disposable coffee cups are rarely recycled. Paper coffee cups have a thin plastic (polyethylene) liner to contain the liquid contents of the cup. The plastic liner interferes with the recovery of paper fibres during recycling process. This creates confusion for consumers, and a headache for waste companies, because those cups will end up in landfill regardless of whether they are placed in general waste or the recycling bin. Unless of course, those cups are placed into a Simply Cups collection tube, provided by Closed Loop.
The Simply Cups Program collects disposable cups via collection tubes located at over 340 locations across Australia. The program is run in conjunction with local coffee stores, office buildings and key partners such as 7-Eleven, Qantas and Muffin Break. Any business can sign up to have a Simply Cups Collection Tube at their store or workplace.
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“The first Simply Cups collection run was in May 2017, and it took 12 months to divert our first 1 million cups from landfill,” Brendan Lee, Strategy Manager at Closed Loop said. “In the next 6 months, we diverted another 1.5 million.”
Simply Cups has now diverted more than 2.5 million cups from landfill, weighing over 25,000 kilograms.
The Simply Cups Program is a team effort. More than 90 different organisations support the program with collection tubes at 344 locations Australia wide.
7-Eleven is Simply Cups Pioneering Partner and largest contributor to cups collected. With Simply Cups Collection Tubes at over 200 stores around Australia via their Cup Rescue Program, 7-Eleven have played the most significant role in diverting the 2.5 million cups from landfill.
"As Australia's second largest coffee destination, 7-Eleven is excited to be part of the solution for rescuing single use cups, lids and straws from landfill," Angus McKay, CEO of 7-Eleven said. "Every cup that consumers put into one of our 200 cup recycling units is collected to be turned into new products such as car park bumpers. Our customers can also choose to use their own reusable cup, such as the rCUP which is made from recycled coffee cups, when they come in for their coffee. We are proud to be able to support Closed Loop's Simply Cups projects, they are providing real solutions for reducing landfill, and reusing materials that would otherwise be wasted."
Program Partner Qantas is another big contributor, and have collected over 200,000 cups this year. Qantas also support Simply Cups via their Qantas Business Rewards Program. Businesses that join the Simply Cups collection program earn 1,000 Qantas points for joining, plus 1 Qantas point for every 2 cups collected by Simply Cups.
The big question everyone wants to know is, what happens to the cups? Closed Loop upcycle waste, such as coffee cups, to turn trash into treasure. Closed Loop is working towards building a circular economy for Australia.
The cups collected through the Simply Cups program are recycled using various technologies.
One of these methods is via our partners Newtechpoly in Moama, NSW, who combine the cups with recycled plastics and makes them into transport control products such as kerbing, car park stoppers and bollards. They also have the capacity to make many other products such as outdoor furniture, planter boxes and fencing.
Another example of the circular economy is the rCUP, the world’s first reusable cup made from disposable coffee cups. The rCUP born out of the Simply Cups UK program (also overseen by Closed Loop), in partnership with Simply Waste and designers Ashortwalk. The Simply Cups UK Program has been running for 5 years and has now collected over 75 million cups over 5 years, and 25 million in the last 12 months.
Funding from the NSW Government will go towards expanding the Simply Cups program in NSW.
Phase one of Simply Cups has concentrated on collecting cups from local cafes and office buildings via in-house collection tubes. Phase two involves specialised bins that can efficiently and effectively collect larger cups numbers from high volume public consumption centres such as shopping centres, airports, stadiums and hospitals.
Funding is provided via the NSW Government’s Circulate grants, which is an initiative to keep waste out of landfill, increase food and garden waste collections, boost business recycling, and invest in new infrastructure. The funding provided will help Closed Loop purchase 100 specialised bins that can service these public places.
“We are delighted that the NSW government has showed such leadership in enabling us to implement a true circular economy solution,” said Robert Pascoe, Managing Director at Closed Loop. “Last year, the program was given a significant boost with 7-Eleven coming on board as a major partner from the private sector. This support from the public sector provides greater security from technologies investing in reprocessing plants and is critical in helping us to complete closed loop recycling programs within Australia, rather than exporting our waste overseas.”
Closed Loop has been working with State Governments across Australia to develop policies that support homegrown recycling solutions.
“There are so many opportunities for local councils, state governments and the private sector to incorporate products made from recycled materials into future infrastructure and public projects,” said Lee. “Closed Loop looks forward to increased interest on this front so that we can fully close the loop on recycling within Australia, and put an end to the export of waste to developing countries.”
Did you know this week (12-18 November) is National Recycling Week by Planet Ark?
Learn more about how Simply Cups is saving millions of coffee cups from landfill.