Europe’s Convenience Food Packaging Association

About the Paper Cup Alliance

The Paper Cup Alliance is part of Pack2Go Europe and brings together the leading companies involved in the manufacture of paper cups in the UK.

Paper cups are the most sustainable and safe solution for drinks on-the-go and those manufactured here in the UK are sustainably sourced, responsibly produced, recyclable and, through a number of facilities, are being recycled. These cups meet the most stringent health, safety and food hygiene regulations, keeping customers safe.

Cups manufactured in the UK are fully recyclable and the aim of the Paper Cup Alliance is to increase recycling rates by supporting the growing infrastructure for their collection and processing.

Paper Cup Alliance members are involved in a range of activities to facilitate the recycling of paper cups in the UK. These initiatives help to demonstrate the recyclability of paper cups and the value their raw materials can provide.

The Paper Cup Alliance members are:

About paper cups

Paper cups are the most sustainable and safe solution for drinks on-the-go. We’ve compiled some key facts to inform policy decisions.

Single use paper cups support the UK economy by enabling today’s on-the-go lifestyle. Whether on our commute to work, having a mid-morning break or meeting friends for a drink in a park, our consumption on-the-go has increased in recent years. Cafes, coffee shops and pop-up mobile baristas are making a significant contribution to our high street economies.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about paper cups, what they’re made of and how they’re recycled. Here are some facts about paper cups that you may not know:

Sustainably sourced

  • Paper cups are 92% wood fibre that is sustainably sourced and the cups are responsibly produced
  • As a result of sustainable forestry practices, forests in Europe have doubled since the 1950s
  • Global paper cup manufacturing requires the equivalent of only 15 days' worth of tree growth in Finnish forests


  • There are five specialist facilities in the UK recycling paper cups
  • Reprocessing facilities in the UK can recycle 4.5 billion paper cups each year
  • Almost 4,500 recycling points around the UK and aiming to expand recycling to 92% of local authorities

Supporting the UK economy

  • 100,000 people employed in the coffee economy
  • 7.3% growth in the coffee shop sector in 2017 generating £9.6bn and supporting high street economies
  • 75% of consumers spend in other local shops when they pop out for a coffee

Find more facts about paper cups here.

Recycling Activities

It is estimated that 2.5bn cups are sold on UK high streets each year and existing facilities can recycle 4.15bn.

Although paper cups make up only 0.7% of total paper packaging waste and 0.1% of total household waste, too few cups are being recycled. The Paper Cup Alliance is working hard across the industry to improve on this.

In October 2017, organisations from across the paper cup supply chain signed an agreement with the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK) to accelerate UK recycling of paper cups. The cross-industry collaboration will work towards delivering a long-term, nationwide paper cup recycling solution.

There are over 4,000 recycling points across the UK where cups are collected and delivered to one of the five recycling and reprocessing plants across the country. Collectively these facilities could recycle 4.15 billion paper cups each year and Paper Cup Alliance members are working to support the infrastructure needed to get the 2.5 billion cups sold on UK high streets each year from consumers’ hands to these paper mills.

News and updates

The latest news and developments on the work of Paper Cup Alliance members and the recycling efforts in the UK.

Paper Cup Alliance members are working collaboratively across the industry supply chain to increase recycling rates through direct investment in infrastructure and support for country-wide initiatives. This work includes campaigning for increased investment in collection infrastructure and ensuring consumers have clear information about how to recycle their used paper cups.

If you would like to contact the Paper Cup Alliance for media inquiries, interviews or more information please email or call +44 207 457 2381.

Press releases

New recycling labels make clear paper cups can be recycled. 29.01.20
The PCA has responded to the new OPRL labelling guidelines which recognise the extensive collection infrastructure now available for paper cup recycling. Their extensive research has further highlighted that paper cups are the safest and most sustainable option for on-the-go consumption.

Paper Cup Alliance responds to new guidelines on paper-based packaging. 13.02.19
Paper recycling is a success story. Paper cups are 100% recyclable and paper cups are in fact easy to recycle. We would like to see all paper cups recycled through segregated waste streams.

Paper Cup Alliance fully supports Glasgow Cup Movement. 31.01.19
The Paper Cup Alliance fully supports the Glasgow Cup Movement to help increase public awareness that all paper cups produced in the UK are 100% recyclable.

Paper Cup Alliance comment on the Government’s Waste and Resources Strategy. 18.12.18
The Paper Cup Alliance welcomes the recognition that the industry is moving in the right direction on recycling rates and presses for more collaboration between Government, councils and waste collectors.

Paper Cup Alliance responds to UK Government publication of single-use plastics call for evidence responses. 17.08.18
The UK Treasury department has published the responses received to the call for evidence on single-use plastics.

Paper Cup Alliance welcomes Hubbub’s motorway cup recycling scheme 19.06.18
Environmental campaign group Hubbub has launched a cup recycling scheme for motorists to help get paper cups to the recycling facilities.

New research: Latte levy risks UK jobs and £819m blow to the economy 03.06.18
New economic research claims 25p recyclable paper cup levy could cost to the economy of £819m and 11,000 jobs in the coffee retail sector.

Paper Cup Alliance welcomes Government’s response to Environmental Audit Committee recommendations on paper cups 09.03.18
The Government has recognised industry efforts to increase recycling rates of paper cups.

Paper Cup Alliance cautions against measures that will hurt consumers and high streets 05.01.18
The Government has recognised industry efforts to increase recycling rates of paper cups.

New research shows coffee shops fuel high street spending 18.12.17
75% of Britons spend in local shops when they pop for a coffee but a tax on this habit would negatively affect how often a third of them would go to their high streets.

Latest news

The Guardian: Decline of the British high street – but one are is booming – 07.07.18
Mike Turner of the Paper Cup Alliance writes in The Guardian about how the coffee sector is bucking the high street trend of decline.

City AM: Latte levy on paper cups risks damaging a successful manufacturing sector of the British economy – 26.06.18
Mike Turner explains why proposals for an environmental levy on an already recyclable product are disproportionate, and risk decimating a successful sector of UK manufacturing industry.

Edie: Latte levy could cost UK economy £819m as industry calls for infrastructure overhaul – 04.06.18
Introducing a 25p levy on drinks served in disposable cups could end up costing the UK economy £819m and removing 11,000 jobs from the coffee retail sector.

Talking Retail: Government must make it easier to recycle disposable coffee cups, say manufacturers – 04.06.18
The alliance wants to encourage recycling of some 85% of paper cups, saying that all paper cups made in Britain are 100% recyclable and made from sustainable sources of wood.

Packaging News: ‘Latte levy’ could hit UK manufacturing, claims study – 04.06.18
According to an economic study by Ecuity, on behalf of the Paper Cup Alliance, a 25p ‘latte levy’ could result in the loss of 11,000 jobs as well as wiping £819m from the economy.

BBC: Disposable coffee cup bans unnecessary, says manufacturer – 03.06.18
Governments need to make it easier to recycle disposable coffee cups, a manufacturer has said.

Sunday Telegraph: 'Latte levy' could cost manufacturing and coffee industries 11,000 jobs– 03.06.18
A “latte levy” of 25p on disposable coffee cups, being proposed by MPs, would cost up to 11,000 jobs in the UK, according to a study commissioned by manufacturers.

Wales Online: This Blackwood manufacturer fears a crackdown on paper cups will cost jobs – 14.05.18
Concerns have been raised that Welsh Government proposals to tax paper cups are “draconian” and would threaten Welsh jobs.

Tonia Antoniazzi MP welcomes the innovative recycling scheme for paper cups – 30.04.18
Gower MP praises ground breaking agreement to get more cups recycled in Swansea.

Chris Evans MP welcomes the installation of new paper cup recycling facilities – 27.04.18
Islwyn MP talks to PCA and local councillors about expanding cup recycling in Caerphilly.

Business Green: Paper cups are recyclable - we just need more of the right bins – 26.04.18
Mike Turner of the Paper Cup Alliance calls on coffee chains to launch a brand blind 'cup amnesty' to get more cups to recycling plants.

BBC News: Coffee chain Boston Tea Party 'first' to ban disposable cups – 24.04.18
An independent coffee chain is believed to be the first in the UK to ban the sale of hot drinks in disposable cups.

BBC News: Plastic recycling – Why are 99.75% of coffee cups not recycled? – 17.04.18
Industry body the Paper Cup Alliance says the specialist plants that do have the technology already have the capacity to recycle all the cups we throw away - it's the infrastructure to transport them there that's currently lacking.

York Press: Plastic-lined cups to be recycled thanks to new scheme – 08.04.18
Kevin Hollinrake MP meets the PCA as a new paper cup recycling scheme expands across the UK.

REB Market Intelligence: Paper coffee cups are entirely recyclable says the Paper Cup Alliance 21.03.18
The Paper Cup Alliance (PCA) wants consumers to know that despite the misconception surrounding paper cup recycling, that this item is ‘entirely recyclable’.

New paper cup recycling scheme launches – 26.02.18
Rosie Cooper MP welcomes the new recycling scheme for paper cups coming to her constituency.

Packaging News: Paper cup recycling increases across the UK 30.01.18
Graphic Packaging’s Mike Turner has addressed “the misconception that the paper cup cannot be recycled”. Press Release: Paper Cup Alliance welcomes Government’s response to Environmental Audit Committee recommendations on paper cups.

Reading Festival paper cup recycling – 06.01.18
Reading MP Matt Rodda praises paper cup recycling scheme that will see festival cups turned into new products such as garden furniture and playmats.

Daily Mail: MPs call for 25p 'latte levy' on coffee cups 05.01.18
Throwaway coffee cups should face a 25p 'latte levy', MPs said last night.

Politics Home: MPs call for 25p ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups 05.01.18
A report by the Environmental Audit Committee recommends that the cash raised by the so-called "latte levy" should be invested in recycling.

International Business Times: Coffee cups could be banned by 2023 05.01.18
British MPs have called for the introduction of a 25p charge on takeaway coffee cups, suggesting they could be banned within five years unless recycling improves.

CBS News: U.K. urged to slap "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups 05.01.18
British lawmakers are calling for a tax on disposable coffee cups sold at retail establishments in a bid to reduce litter and refuse sent to landfills.

Process Industry Match: Paper Cup Alliance cautions against measures that will hurt consumers and high streets 05.01.18
The Paper Cup Alliance (PCA) has welcomed the recognition of industry efforts to increase recycling but cautioned against measures that hurt consumers and harm the high street economy.

Let’s Recycle: Industry responds to coffee cups report 05.01.18
Two of the UK’s most prominent waste management companies and the Paper Cup Alliance have responded to the call from the Environmental Audit Committee today for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups. Press Release: Paper Cup Alliance cautions against measures that will hurt consumers and high streets.

BBC News: 'Latte levy' of 25p urged by MPs in bid to cut cup waste 05.01.18
MPs are calling for a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups - and a total ban unless recycling improves.

City AM: Hammond's plastic coffee cup tax could threaten high street businesses... says the Paper Cup Alliance 18.12.17
Taxing disposable coffee cups could hurt other high street businesses, new research has found, as British consumers confess their coffee habit is what keeps them visiting other shops.

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