Starbucks launches UK fund to help recycle coffee cups

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Starbucks launched a £1 million ($1.3 million) fund on Thursday to kickstart recycling programs across the U.K. for paper coffee cups.

Launched in partnership with environmental charity Hubbub, "The Cup Fund" will support at least 10 large-scale recycling initiatives. It will offer grants from £50,000 up to £100,000 based on individual organizations' needs, with an aim of helping with the development of long-term infrastructure.

Coffee shops have faced widespread criticism for selling drinks in paper cups that cannot be recycled with ordinary paper and cardboard due to a plastic lining that stops hot drinks from leaking. Hubbub noted in a press release Thursday that more recycling points specifically for paper coffee cups were needed, as well as clearer communication to help the public recycle more effectively.

The fund is open to applications from a range of organizations including local authorities, recycling companies and property owners.

Jaz Rabadia, U.K. senior manager of energy and sustainability at Starbucks, said in a press release that it was a significant step for the coffee giant.

"For us it's about three things when it comes to cups: getting more customers to bring in a reusable cup when they visit us, recycling those that are used and also looking at alternative materials to plastic that future cups could be made from that we'll be trialling in London next year."

Starbucks introduced a 5 pence charge on paper cups in the U.K. last year in an effort to encourage the uptake of reusable cups. All proceeds are donated to Hubbub to carry out environmental projects.

The company also offers instore cup recycling in 350 locations across Britain.

Earlier this month, the BBC reported that independent coffee chain Boston Tea Party saw sales decline by £250,000 after it banned single use cups last summer. The company, which is based in the English city of Bristol, said it usually sold £1 million in takeaway coffees per year but those numbers had fallen by 25%.