London Gets Giant Coffee Cups to Recycle 7 Million Small Ones

London is installing giant yellow bins in the shape of coffee cups, aiming to persuade consumers to recycle as many as 7 million hot-drink containers a year that otherwise end up in landfill.

Less than 1 percent of the cups given out by chains from Starbucks Corp. to McDonald’s Corp. are recycled because they have a thin plastic coating that makes them difficult to shift into other uses, according to the British charity Hubbub, which is leading the campaign that starts on Monday.

The organization, with the backing of more than 30 banks and businesses in the City of London including ING Bank NV and Lloyd’s of London Ltd., is working to collect discarded coffee cups. They’ll be recycled by Simply Cups, a partnership between Closed Loop Environmental Solutions Ltd. and Simply Waste Solutions, which will create either a plastic or recovered fiber material.

“Until now there has been no consistent, reliable way to recycle coffee cups in the heart of London and so the Square Mile Challenge is a big step forward,” Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for environment and energy, said in an emailed statement.

City offices including the Leadenhall Building, also known as “The Cheesegrater,” coffee retailers and key Network Rail Ltd. train stations will install bins to collect cups. Hubbub estimates more than 7 million coffee cups a day are thrown away.

“That is a considerable amount of waste that we have not got into the habit of recycling the way we do with bottles” said Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief operating officer at Lloyd’s.

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