Drive to replace 800,000 disposable coffee cups

Issued: Mon, 30 Sep 2019 14:31:00 BST

The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club is now serving all takeaway items in compostable Vegware packaging.

This is the start of a pilot scheme to replace all disposable food and drink packaging with Vegware, which takes under 12 weeks to biodegrade into nutrient-rich compost.

The University estimates that we currently use around 800,000 disposable coffee cups per year, which are currently non-recyclable. The initial pilot will allow Catering and Hospitality to gauge the volumes and logistics required to roll out Vegware across all catering outlets across our campuses, anticipated for later in 2020.

There is currently a 25p surcharge on disposable coffee cups to encourage the use of reusable coffee cups.

During the pilot phase, collection points for Vegware items are only available in the Gilchrist. Vegware recycling points will be added to all recycling bins across campus as the scheme is scaled up. Please note that Vegware items should not be put into the general recycling bins as they will not compost this way – please use dedicated Vegware bins.


Scott Masterton, Director, Catering and Events, said: “Ultimately, we want to minimise waste across all our operations, but particularly looking at our use of disposable items in catering and events.

“An important step in this journey is for us to ensure that the materials that we do use are recyclable or compostable. Changing this will be a significant undertaking as we currently use around 800,000 cups per year, as well as various other disposable plastic items across our outlets.

“We would encourage everyone to use reusable items, such as a Keep Cup, where possible. However where this cannot be achieved we want to make Vegware available, so the impact of our waste is minimised. The ‘closed loop’ system will ensure all the compostable products get returned to Vegware to be specially treated.”

How can I help to replace a million disposable coffee cups?

  1. You can buy a branded Keep Cup from the University shop, or any catering outlet on-campus
  2. Where you do get coffee or tea in a Vegware cup, make sure you dispose of it in one of the designated bins
  3. When ordering University catering choose crockery whenever possible

More widely the University is working with Zero Waste Scotland to find reduce catering waste across the campus.

Please see our Sustainable Food Policy for more info.