Top UK Universities for Coffee Cup Recycling

a take away cup

There has recently been a lot in the news about the urgent need to reduce our disposable coffee cup use. By now we probably all know the statistics, each year in the UK alone, we get through 3 bn disposable cups with most of these going to landfill. Less than 0.25% of coffee cups are recycled because recycling requires special capabilities in order to separate the plastic coating from the paper cup.

Our universities do a lot of the research into the problems with plastic waste and yet how many of these actually ensure that their own cafés offer facilities to recycle the take-away cups that they are using?

This list features those (UK based*) universities that are going some way to reducing the number of disposable coffee cups that we use.

So far the list is shockingly short. So if you know of a university or a university department that is taking some steps towards environmental responsibility with coffee cups, please let me know here. Even the smallest of actions will get them added to the list (with details of what they are doing). Let’s celebrate the positive and see this list grow.




Universities that use compostable cups:

Universities that hope to be on the list soon:

University of Edinburgh, currently investigating implementing a scheme.





The list features universities that are trying to do something (anything!) to reduce takeaway cup waste. This could be through only serving coffee in ceramic (stay-in) cups, or by arranging recycling via a specialist coffee cup recycler such as Simply Cups. University cafés using compostable cups will be listed, though as discussed elsewhere, ‘compostable’ is not necessarily as good as it sounds.

If your university is not on the list and yet you know it recycles its cups, please let me know. If your university is not on the list and it does not recycle its cups (sadly the majority), why not get involved and ask them why not! For reference Simply Cups offer a 50% educational discount for universities who want to start to recycle their takeaway cups through them, so why not put your university department in touch with Simply Cups and then keep me updated about what you are doing. The fully recyclable Frugal Cups is not yet available on the UK market (est. 2017).

For people at non-UK universities: Please let me know if your university is taking its environmental responsibility seriously. Although for the moment this list has to be limited to UK universities only, a new list could be made if there are enough international universities.

Details about each individual university:

University of Loughborough sustainability scheme.

University of Sheffield “Campus Cups” scheme