Network Rail has announced plans to tackle three significant environmental issues its busy train stations, including the roll out of new plastic restrictions on its retailers.
By the end of 2020, retailers who have a presence within Network Rail’s train stations will be banned from from supplying plastic cutlery and cups.
Alongside the plastic restrictions, the train station operator plans to implement a coffee cup recycling scheme and expand the roll-out of coffee ground recycling.
Network Rail has already written to the 150 retail brands based in its 20 managed stations across the UK, outlining plans to work with them to phase out plastic cutlery and cups.
It has also begun a back of house trial of coffee cup recycling at London stations Victoria and Paddington.
The trial sees cups collected from station retailers and placed into special bins in staff-only areas before being taken offsite to be reprocessed into new materials for benches, decking and even reusable cups.
Network Rail said more than 20 million cups of coffee are sold at its managed stations each year, and the new coffee cup recycling initiative compliments an existing initiative whereby coffee grounds from more than nine million cups of coffee are recycled into a clean fuel. There are plans to expand this by 2020, too.
Network Rail added that 94 per cent of its waste is already diverted from landfill, and works are underway to roll out free water fountains which will save around 1000 plastic bottles from going to waste each week.
“Network Rail has an important responsibility to the British public which goes much further than travel,” chief executive Mark Carne said.
“We manage Britain’s biggest and busiest stations and we have to ensure we are using that role to make sensible and ethical decisions to protect our environment.
“That’s why today we’re proud to announce that we will be tackling some of the biggest sustainability issues we face head on.”
The news coincides with the UN’s World Environment Day and are part of Network Rail’s environmental sustainability efforts.
Major retailers and tenants have already expressed their support for the initiatives.
““This year’s theme for World Environment Day is ‘beat plastic pollution’, and we are serious about making positive changes to do just that,” Network Rail managing director David Biggs said.
“In February, we began work to introduce free water fountains in our managed stations to reduce the impact of single-use plastics.
“Now we’re ready to go a step further – by the end of 2020 our goal is that the retailers at our managed stations will no longer provide plastic cutlery or cups.
“We want to be a leader in sustainability and we feel that each of these three goals show a real commitment to change, and recognition of our responsibility to protect the environment.
“We’ve been inspired by the many retailers that are already taking important steps to find solutions to this widespread problem, and now we want to work alongside our retail partners to create an even bigger impact.”