The UPS Environmental Sustainability Award: James Cropper

Award Type: 

Finalist for Business in the Community's UPS Environmental Sustainability Award 2019

James Cropper: Tackling the disposable-cup recycling challenge with pioneering process

The vast majority of takeaway coffee cups in the UK are not recycled. To deal with the problem, paper producer James Cropper has developed CupCycling, a technology to rescue the valuable fibre in disposable paper cups on a commercial scale. By teaming up with waste management companies, coffee chains and restaurants, the business has created a supply chain to turn more and more cup waste into useful paper and packaging. 

The likes of Costa, McDonald’s, and Starbucks have installed 4,000 cup collection stations nationwide. James Cropper has also worked with Hubbub in Leeds with the aim that people are never more than five minutes away from a recycling bin. 

Cups are then collected by ten waste management partners across the country for processing, before being delivered to the James Cropper plant in the Lake District. 

Since the £5 million CupCycling plant was opened in 2013 it has recycled the equivalent of two billion cups in coffee cup trim from disposable production. The business says it has the potential to save 500 million cups from landfill each year. 

The mainstream publicity of the coffee cup issue, and the demand for papers with CupCycling fibre, has meant the business has been able to achieve between 5% and 10% uplift in prices for papers. 

About 8% of the mill’s fibre supply is processed through the plant and is set to grow to 15% by 2020. This growth is backed by increasing supply from partners such as Costa, which has committed to recycling 500 million cups by 20201.   


  1. Sky News, Costa pledges to recycle 500 million cups by 2020. Available at

Unless otherwise stated, the information in this impact story has been supplied by James Cropper.