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#TakeItBack to the start

A blog post by Paul Wallace

Ahead of the launch of our #TakeItBack initiative, members of #TeamKSBScot conducted bin audits in both Glasgow and Dundee. The findings give a clear indication that we're on the right path, but have more to do.

Bins are not just a receptacle for waste. They are magic boxes that allow us to hide our harmful environmental choices. When #TeamKSBScot conducted bin audits across Glasgow and Dundee, the task was far from glamorous. In fact, it took the phrase getting your hands dirty to a whole other level. 

But the task shone a light on the problems we would rather not see. They are a crucial part of our work to gather data and create campaigns which will make a difference to Scotland's litter emergency. Putting your rubbish in the bin is not enough. Not if you want a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Scotland.

Every year, around 200 million single-use cups are used and discarded in Scotland. Only 4% are recycled.

Our forthcoming Take It Back Initiative, which will run in Glasgow and Dundee, has two simple aims: making people aware of how to properly recycle a single-use cup and ensuring we make it as convenient as possible to return a single-use cup to ensure it is recycled.

The bin audits we conducted in Glasgow and Dundee helped us better understand how many single-use cups are going into general waste bins and informed the development of Take It Back.

These bin audits took place almost one year to the day from industrial action by waste workers across Scotland. Many will remember the images of cities and towns with bins not just overflowing but literally being buried behind the piles of rubbish.

The fact that so much of this additional waste was single-use and recyclable added to the shock and helped to highlight our unsustainable consumption. The general consensus was that we needed to change, to address our relationship with waste and create a circular economy.  

Going to Glasgow’s Buchanan precinct, we audited the contents of 24 general waste and recycling bins. Although the audit took place over only two days, we counted 382 recyclable hot beverage cups in city centre bins. 

Despite the smaller size of the city, an audit of waste from bins emptied on 21 different occasions in Dundee’s City Square contained 482 recyclable hot drinks cups.  

With Scotland enjoying a rare period of warmer weather when the audits were carried out, colder drinks were popular, and cold drink cups made up 245 of the cups found in the bins across the two cities. Dundee once again took the lead with 159 paper/card cups being counted and Glasgow with 86 recyclable cold drink cups.

The number of cups we found in bins is a positive sign that we’re heading in the right direction, indicating people want to dispose of their waste properly rather than litter it. With only a few more steps we could be on our way to giving single-use items another chance of life – by recycling properly.

A new survey from the National Cup Recycling Scheme found that 75% of the public believe that while disposable paper cups are recyclable, only 1% actually return them to a retailer offering a cup takeback scheme.

Half of those surveyed stated that the main reason cups do not get recycled is that there are not enough cup recycling bins, reflecting the fact that more than 96% think that retailers selling single use cups should provide recycling onsite.

Our forthcoming #TakeItBack initiative which will involve 150 stores across Glasgow and Dundee means that our message should be heard loud and clear - your hot (or cold) drink cups can be returned to any store for proper recycling.

With the members of the National Cup Recycling Scheme, Costa, McDonald’s, Café Nero, Pret A Manger, Greggs, as well as Starbucks on board, you’ll be able to return your paper cup at every corner in either city. Other NCRS members, Lavazza and Burger King are also supporting the project by co-funding.

We want people to enjoy guilt free hot drinks on the go while supporting our environment. If you can’t use a reusable cup, please do support our Take It Back initiative and help us increase the number of single-use cups recycled in Scotland.  

Watch out for the launch of the campaign in both cities and let’s boost the number of single use cups being recycled.

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