These photos show how the occupants of two large office buildings in Brussels believe used paper and plastic cups are recyclable, because they have put them with other recyclable materials (glass/cans/paper/plastic bottles & beverage cartons). And of course they are quite right - these cups are recyclable!
It is entirely possible to integrate single use service packaging into the circular economy in Europe, so consumers can continue to benefit from the vital food hygiene, public health and convenience benefits that these products deliver. But while the instincts of consumers tell them used cups should be collected for recycling, our existing systems often fail them. That's got to change.
In both buildings, used cups were supposed to go in the non-recycled waste bin. A simple inspection of the five-stream separate collection containers in one building repeatedly showed that there were four times as many plastic and paper cups in the recycling streams as in the general waste bin.
Large areas of Europe have embraced separate collection and recycling. Consumers clearly want access to recycling for service packaging like these cups. We need building managers, waste handling companies, local authorities, "green dot" schemes, and recyclers to work with manufacturers and users of single use service packaging to give consumers what their instincts tell them is right! Collection for recycling.
Disclaimer: In Belgium, paper cups are not allowed in the blue PMD bag for recycling. For up-to-date sorting guidelines, please visit the website of Fost Plus, which is responsible for promoting, coordinating and financing the selective collecting, sorting and recycling of household packaging waste in Belgium.