14 September 2021

Commerce Commission warning over takeaway coffee cups

Recyclable ‘in theory’ doesn’t cut it.

The Commerce Commission has warned a takeaway coffee cup manufacturer for misleading consumers by claiming its hot drink cups are 100 percent recyclable.

What’s interesting here is that, in theory, the cups are fully recyclable. But they just can’t be recycled in New Zealand.

The commission said Glopac New Zealand likely breached the Fair Trading Act by claiming its cups were recyclable, when in fact hot drink takeaway cups aren’t currently accepted into recycling streams in New Zealand.

In April, Consumer NZ reported that New Zealand was the second-worst country for packaging recyclability based on a global trial with 8 other consumer organisations. The study assessed packaging recyclability and labelling of 11 popular products sold across 9 countries – including Pringles, Kit Kat bars, Heinz ketchup and San Pellegrino Sparkling Water.

In the trial, only Brazil fared worse. In comparison, Australia placed third. Hong Kong had the best recycling rate.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said the commission’s warning shows companies understand the power of marketing their products as being environmentally friendly.

“Consumers want to do the right thing for the planet. This type of greenwashing takes advantage of that goodwill for profit. It’s good to see the commission taking action to call out Glopac New Zealand. Companies need to take the shortcomings in New Zealand’s recycling ecosystem into account before making claims that their products can be recycled.

“Recyclable ‘in theory’ doesn’t cut it.”

Member comments

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Lloyd B.
19 Sep 2021
All plant based plastic is not recyclable

So-called recyclable packaging (mainly food and drink containers) from plants is not recyclable in NZ because it contaminates the waste stream which is thereby not organic.
All commercial composting plants need to be organic to find a market for their compost.

David C.
19 Sep 2021
A better solution: cupcycling

This initiative for a pool of reusable cups has been launched in a number of areas - I live in Dunedin. It works and it's even pretty convenient...

Neil A.
18 Sep 2021
There's another option

Who drives the need for takeaway cups in the first place? We do, for our convenience. Manufacturers thus supply coffee shops with cheapest takeaway cups possible.
Better option: keep/use your own mug/cup for coffee on the go! might be a little inconvenient for us but way better than expecting "someone else" to deal with dirty cups!

Paul S.
15 Sep 2021
100% recycled please... not "recyclable"

Until companies start using recycled material, we'll never make a dent in the mountain of waste.

How is this recyclable material going to actually get recycled if no-one is prepared to buy it and use it?

Making something "recyclable" is the bare minimum we expect. To make a difference, they need to be using recycled instead of virgin materials.