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Woolworths kicks off the New Year with an innovative coffee cup recycling programme

| Going green

After successful trials at the Woolworths Head Office and Garden Centre store, Woolworths has rolled out its new coffee cup recycling initiative to all Western Cape stores with cafés, coffee carts or pods. When it comes to recycling, the disposal of coffee cups presents the challenges of mixed materials and the potential of food waste contamination.

At the centre of Woolworths’ solution is a custom-designed recycling bin which will enable in-store customers to ensure their coffee cups are recycled in three quick, easy steps.

The innovative Woolworths coffee cup recycling bin has three distinct compartments.  The first step is to dispose of the plastic lid in the first partition which is sized so that only lids can fit in.  Remaining liquid in the cup then needs to be poured into the liquid partition which has a 1.5 litre bucket in it that is emptied and sanitised between uses.  Finally, the coffee cup is placed into the third partition which is shaped to resemble a coffee cup to make it easier for the user. The lids and cups are then collected from Woolies’ stores through the reverse logistics system which uses return trips to transport recyclable store waste to the Woolworths Distribution Centre where it is collected and sorted before moving onto the recyclers.

“Our Western Cape roll-out of the programme will be a pilot for a scaled-up collection so that we can refine the end-to-end process if necessary,” says Woolworths Group Head of Sustainability, Feroz Koor.  “Following that, we will implement the model and process regionally to achieve a national roll-out.  We have seen a very positive response at our Garden Centre store with collection rates that exceed world averages within the same confines.”  

The coffee cup recycling programme is a further development on the Woolworths Good Business Journey that aims to achieve ZERO waste to landfill.  Woolworths is moving steadily towards meeting its commitments which include eliminating single-use plastics by 2020 and ensuring that all its packaging is either recyclable or reusable by 2022.  “Once we have rolled the coffee cup recycling bins out nationally, we believe that this will be the most extensive coffee cup recycling programme in the country,” adds Koor.

Woolworths also offers various reusable coffee cup options for customers who prefer to use their own coffee cups, as well as giving a R1 discount for bringing your own cup. 

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