News that vending operating companies are soon to be required to facilitate cup recycling, by providing collection bins or working with waste management companies in a ‘take back’ scheme, has become a major talking point in the industry. With stiff penalties for non-compliance, businesses have been looking for advice, and as a major provider of packaging, many of those requests for help and guidance have landed at the door of 4 ACES.
Presciently, 4 ACES anticipated the demand – and the opportunity – by appointing Kimberley Knights as National Account Manager – Sustainability. Her role includes the personal supervision of a roster of key clients, at the same time as keeping all customers abreast of legislation and liaising with waste collection contractors. It’s not simply about ensuring customers are compliant with the requirements of ERP, it’s also about to keeping them abreast of any developments that will contribute to minimising environmental impact.
‘A lot of people want to be ahead of what’s going on, others wait until the last minute’, Kim said. ‘What we’re trying to do is really unpack all the ramifications that are coming out of the updates, and then putting together advice and information pieces for customers and following that up with face-to-face meetings.’
Many of those meetings have been with third-party waste collectors, to discuss the creation of new waste streams and how they could be implemented. ‘We need first-hand knowledge of the services that are available to our customers, and forging relationships with waste collection companies is an important part of that’, she says.
‘I think in terms of independent businesses, such as coffee shops, complying with the new legislation is quite straightforward, albeit expensive. Add this extra expenditure to the other rising costs and that could spell trouble going forward’, Kim says. ‘For vending, it can get more confusing. What if your operation is ‘not for profit’? A car showroom that offers browsers free tea or coffee, or a care home, for instance. Do those situations also have a take back obligation? If you have more than 10 members of staff, and you’re not profiting from the machine – and neither is the vending company – who (if anybody) is responsible for taking the used cups back? It’s a grey area.’
Kim has discovered that many customers believe that all disposable cups will be subject to the new regulations when they go-live next year – which simply isn’t the case. ‘The new rules apply only to PE lined cups’ she says. ‘Other types of cups, such as those that are compostable, are exempt from the legislation. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to launch CUPkind, our new line of certified recyclable, plastic-free and compostable cups. They are manufactured using FSC® certified paperboard sourced from sustainable forests; they benefit from new barrier coating technology and they are available in single-wall, double-wall and vending options.
‘Whilst they may be a little more expensive to buy than PE coated cups, if you opt for this route you won’t have to install collection bins, make arrangements with waste contractors for collections or put signs up around the premises to advise your customers of the new procedures they are required to adopt. Add these outgoings to the equation and the differential cost is substantially reduced, making CUPkind products an eminently viable alternative.’
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, though, when it comes to vending. ‘All our vending customers have varying requirements’, Kim says. ‘Some of them provide the machines, keep them supplied and take the profit, whilst others have a different business model which culminates in their customer pocketing the profits. Either way, we have information collateral that we can give them to pass on to their customers.’
Kim dismisses the idea that the new legislation will mean a downturn in sales of disposables: ‘Disposable cups are always in demand, simply for their convenience’, she says. ‘In locations that have no kitchen facilities – or even a place to wash up cups– there is really no alternative to them and a huge part of our mission at 4 ACES is to provide products that are easily recyclable so that the environmental implications of using disposables are minimised.’
*If you feel you would benefit from some no-nonsense advice on your use of disposable products and CUPkind, contact Kim.
More on 4Aces on Planet Vending HERE