New disposable cup recycling bins

You may have spotted some new disposable cup recycling bins on campus this autumn.

These new bins are from Forge Recycling and are designed to make it as easy as possible to recycle single-use disposable cups used for hot drinks with separate sections for the lids, the cup and any left over fluid.

As it is widely known, single-use cups are very difficult to recycle. This is due to their inner plastic lining, which is bonded to the paper outer, making it hard to separate the two materials. At the University this has previously resulted in disposable cups going into our general waste bins and then being sent for energy recovery through incineration rather than recycling. Although this route provides energy it means that the materials are not reused and additional raw materials are then needed to make new cups.

Working with local waste company, Forge Recycling, the new recycling bins mean that the single-use cups will be sent to one of the few sites in the UK that are able to recycle the cups. The cups are broken down and the bonded plastic insert is removed from the paper outer. The segregated plastic is then sent for recycling while the broken down paper can be made into new paper products. This short video explains the process:

The new bins have initially been installed at selected Great Food at Leeds (GFAL) cafes across campus and we will also be rolling out additional bins at key locations across campus.

At the University we strive to reuse as much as possible rather than recycling. As a thank you to those using their own reusable cups for hot drinks in any of the GFAL cafes we offer a 20p discount. Find out more about this and our special University of Leeds Keepcups on the GFAL webpage.

Find out more about how we recycle at the University.

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our reuse and recycling strategy is linked to the following SDGs:

  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.