Selfridges has become the first retailer to upcycle used coffee cups from in-store and at its headquarters into its iconic yellow shopping bags.
The initiative comes after recent scientific data showing that paper coffee cups could not be recycled, and with 2.5 billion paper cups used in the UK each year.
Selfridges’ new upcycled bags begins its life when used disposable cups from the department store’s food hall and offices are “tipped, flipped and stacked” – a process to ensure remaining liquid is drained and the lid, sleeve and cup are separated.
They are then further processed, checked for quality and baled before being delivered to a paper manufacturer for reprocessing.
The paper is then converted into the retailer’s distinct yellow shopping bags, with the final product containing 20 per cent cup fibre, meaning one large bag will contain the equivalent of one 8oz cup. The remaining fibre of the bag will continue to be PEFC certified.
Once the upcycled bags have been used, it will then be recycled in the standard paper waste stream.
“As part of our ‘Buying Better, Inspiring Change’ approach, we are constantly looking for new ways to make our business more efficient. One way we’re doing this is by reducing the amount of single use plastics we use,” Selfridges retail projects director Chris Brant said.
“In 2015, as part of our Project Ocean campaign with the Zoological Society of London, we removed plastic carrier bags, microbeads from our beauty hall and single-use plastic cups and bottles from our stores and back of house.
“As we are already at zero waste to landfill, we are looking at further innovative ways to capture and treat recyclable materials.”
He added: “We’re proud to be the first retailer to upcycle our cups in this way.
“Our customers are becoming ever more aware of global waste issues and I think they will appreciate the story behind the bag.”