Paper cups require a barrier coating to enable the retention of liquid, without which they would not be fit for purpose. Whilst some markets and paper mills will accept paper cups as part of the paper stream, some current mechanical sorting processes do not have the capability to segregate paper cups from a co-mingled stream and therefore dedicated schemes help collect and realise the full value of the high-quality fibre.
The Cup Collective is a unique European partnership programme to recycle and regenerate paper cups on an industrial scale
Discover how to reduce costs and improve environmental performance by installing a dedicated paper cup bin and collection service at site.
Check out our latest news and case studies in the Cup Hub.
Find out about the current paper cup recycling challenge and our solution to increase paper cup recycling across Europe to an industrial scale.
Learn how our innovative new tracking system provides complete transparency and real-time data on the end-to-end paper cup collection process.
An at-scale solution
We are removing barriers to accelerate industrial scale solutions for paper cup recycling across Europe.
Realising commercial value
The Cup Collective maximizes paper cup value through reusing cups as raw materials for recycling.
Delivering systemic change through partnership
The Cup Collective delivers an industry solution to a global challenge. We work with our partners through the value chain to put systems in place driving at-scale recycling of single use paper cups.
Every cup counts
The Cup Collective believes in the value of every single use paper cup. We are developing transparent and traceable solutions to regenerate the value of each cup for new uses.
Making it easy, making it the everyday
Creating a movement starts one cup at a time. By making it easy for consumers to do the right thing, we will ensure that no cup is left behind.
The Cup Collective can provide a comprehensive range of dedicated paper cup collection bins that meet the specific requirements of each site.
The Future of Recycling Takes Off with the Launch of The Cup Collective in Brussels
Brussels, 7 December 2022 – The Cup Collective, a European programme for recycling and capturing the value of used paper cups at an industrial scale...
Support for The Cup Collective continues to grow in Brussels
The Cup Collective, an innovative recycling programme aimed at accelerating industrial-scale paper cup recycling and regeneration, aims to recycle...
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can't paper cups just go in the standard recycling bin?
Do you accept all types of paper cups?
The Cup Collective is primarily targeted for paper cups with a plastic-based or water-based dispersion coating, which can effectively be recycled into new paper and board products at specific recycling facilities. However, all types of paper cups, including compostable cups, which are disposed to collection units will be collected for recycling.
Why don’t you advocate the use of reusable cups?
We believe that a mix of solutions are required for beverage service, with the industrial scale recycling of paper cups being fundamental to optimizing circularity for use in the takeaway sector.
About The Cup Collective
What is The Cup Collective?
The Cup Collective is a collaborative industry initiative to increase paper cup recycling across Europe to an industrial scale, aiming to see recycling of paper cups surpass a minimum of 5,000 tonnes in the coming years.
Does The Cup Collective offer a direct collection service?
TCC is seeking to support existing cup collection schemes or facilitate the creation of new cup collection schemes. If required, we will however take direct action to stimulate new territories, albeit that we will handover operational responsibility to a local collection scheme as soon as possible.
Can anybody join The Cup Collective?
The Cup Collective is open to any stakeholder within the paper cup supply chain. Please contact us if you are interested in participating.
How is The Cup Collective funded?
Initial start-up funding has been provided by the Founding Partners; however, the longer-term objective is for The Cup Collection operations to be self-funding.
How are paper cups collected and recycled?
Paper cup recycling can be carried out by a wide variety of organisations. Our aim is to develop a Europe wide network of companies who will offer cup collection as part of their services. The Cup Collective will work with those companies to share best practice to maximise sorting and collection, and ensure the cups find their way to an appropriate mill to realise the value of the high-quality fiber.
Is it also possible to recycle lids and/or straws?
Our range of cup collection units have the ability to separately collect lids, liquids, and other related items such as straws and stirrers. This is primarily intended to ensure that paper cups are collected free from contamination and therefore please check with your Collection Scheme to establish whether these additional items can also be recycled as part of their service.
Who manages the cup collection unit?
The cleaning and emptying of the cup collection unit is the responsibility of the site owner. Used paper cups collected in these units should subsequently be decanted into a sack to enable collection from site by your Collection Scheme on an agreed frequency.
What happens to the paper cups after collection?
Collected paper cups are aggregated and subsequently baled to enable onward bulk transport as a segregated material stream for recycling. Paper cups are recycled at specific facilities into new paper and board products.
Are the collected paper cups recycled in Europe?
Our immediate focus is to support and develop circular material flows in Europe. Therefore, our performance data only incorporates paper cups recycled at European facilities and evidenced by supporting waste transfer notes stipulating the provision of segregated post-consumer paper cups.