Costa & McDonalds join with Roadchef to accelerate cup recycling scheme

Costa Coffee and McDonald’s UK are joining with motorway service area operator, Roadchef, to co-fund an innovative cup recycling programme at all 30 Roadchef sites across the UK.

It is the latest project run by members of the National Cup Recycling Scheme, which aims to accelerate takeaway cup recycling across the UK.

Roadchef is one of the most recognised stopping points for drivers across the UK, whether it’s travelling for work or a holiday. Its service areas see over 50 million visitors every year, presenting a massive opportunity to help solve the challenge of collecting and recycling paper takeaway cups on-the-go, whilst also tackling roadside litter.

The three businesses are coming together to demonstrate the power partnerships have in achieving circular solutions for packaging waste.

By introducing 65 bold new recycling units, designed by Unisan UK, they are showing how easy it is to recycle takeaway cups and helping consumers play their part too. They hope other businesses will follow their lead to unlock the huge potential for cup recycling on-the-go.

Consumers can use the new units to easily separate their cups, lids, and any leftover drinks before sending them off for recycling. Cups will then be backhauled via Costa Coffee’s stores and sent to specialist recycling facilities to be recycled into new products, such as reusable cups and new luxury paper packaging.

It means that road users can now keep hold of their takeaway cups in their cars after enjoying their favourite drinks, safe in the knowledge that they can easily recycle them at the next stop on their journey.

For Costa Coffee, the partnership reflects the company’s work to improve the sustainability of its cups and packaging. It also supports its wider commitment to reaching Net Zero, which it announced earlier this year alongside setting a science-based target to halve its emissions per serving of coffee by 2030.

The global coffee brand also incentivises reuse through its Costa Coffee Club loyalty scheme whilst continuing to provide cup recycling points at all its UK stores. Most recently, it launched a trial in 150 stores of 100% recyclable fibre lids, made from renewable plant-based material.

Costa Coffee’s Sustainability Lead, Laurence Webb, said, “At Costa Coffee, we are focused on championing sustainable solutions for cups and packaging, and want to work with other leading brands to drive positive change for the environment.

'This exciting project helps us deliver on both aims and we’re looking forward to seeing how consumers respond so we can further optimise and boost recycling across the country. “

The project also forms part of McDonald’s Plan for Change which launched last year. As part of this McDonald’s UK has committed to become Net Zero across its restaurants and offices by 2030 and across its entire value chain by 2040.

In December 2021, McDonald’s opened the UK’s first ever net-zero build restaurant in Market Drayton. Across its estate McDonald’s has over 1,100 recycling units where customers can recycle cups from any brand, not just McDonald’s.

McDonald’s Senior Sustainability Consultant, Helen McFarlane, added, “We’re delighted to be collaborating with our partners on this exciting project. We are committed to making it even easier for on-the-go consumers to give their cups a second life, and this is the next step on that journey.

'We hope that, by putting these highly visible bins in some of our most visited locations we can get the message out there that coffee cups can be recycled, and we will be continue to encourage people to return their cups to our restaurants across the country.”