CPI responds to inaccuracies in BBC article about recyclability of pizza boxes, paper coffee cups; CPI clarifies that stains, marks from contact with food do not prevent pizza boxes from being recycled, reiterates paper coffee cups are currently recycled

Sample article from our Government & Public Policy

June 1, 2023 (press release) –

The BBC article What is wishcycling? Government plans to tackle recycling contamination, published on 31 May 2023, contains misleading claims on the recyclability of pizza boxes and paper coffee cups. The UK’s Paper-based Industries are disappointed that the BBC failed to give an accurate picture of the recyclability of these items, and in reaction to this article the industry position is outlined as follows: 

Pizza boxes

BBC article: If the box is greasy or stained with food, then you aren't able to recycle it and it should go in your general waste bin. However, if the lid is clean, you can tear that part of the box off and recycle it.

CPI response: Stains or marks from contact with food do not prevent pizza boxes from being recycled. The Paper Industry’s position is clear, as outlined in the CPI Design for Recyclability Guidelines. Paper containing stains or even traces of food, which are unavoidable in collection of post-consumer material and do not fully soak the paper, is acceptable. Surface staining, for example stains due to grease and spots of the toppings in delivery boxes for pizza and sandwich packs, and traces such as breadcrumbs in bags, sugar, salt, flour or food in emptied boxes or bags can be tolerated. Food waste sitting in the pack (free moving food), food attached to the surface (3D residue), and traces and stains that fully soak the paper, is regarded as unacceptable. This advice is in line with Paper and board — Guidance on the application of Term 2.2 Prohibited materials of BS EN 643:2014 which addresses the presence of food contamination and has been developed to assist the users of BS EN 643:2014 to better understand the term “prohibited materials”.

Coffee cups

BBC article: Disposable drinking cups are often made of mixed materials like paper and plastic. If this is the case, they can't be recycled as it can be too difficult to separate the materials. However, you can recycle the plastic lid! Also, some restaurants can recycle the cups as they are collected separately and sent to a special factory.

CPI response: Paper coffee cups are a potential source of high-quality fibre and are currently recycled. These products are usually disposed of ‘away from home’ and due to their mixed material composition, they need to be collected separately from other fibre-based material. This ensures they are directed to the appropriate facility with the necessary equipment to be reprocessed efficiently and ensure maximum recovery of fibre. The UK’s Paper-based Industries are supportive of the increasing number of paper cup recycling points across the UK which provide separate collections of used coffee cups and arrange for them to be recycled. The UK has sufficient reprocessing capacity to recycle all the paper coffee cups used in the UK. Finally, a mandatory cup takeback scheme has been proposed as part of Defra's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reforms, and the UK’s Paper-based Industries are keen to work with all parties to ensure that the maximum amount of this valuable fibre is recovered.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

See our dashboard in action - schedule an demo
Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

We offer built-to-order government & public policy coverage for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.