"Network Rail has already written to the 150 retail brands based in its 20 managed stations, outlining plans to work with them to phase out plastic cutlery and cups."
The manager of much of the UK rail network and its largest train stations, Network Rail, is to enforce a sustainability initiative on businesses operating at its stations that will see an end to the use of single-use cups and plastic cutlery by the end of 2020.
Network Rail is one of the UK’s largest retail landlords, with an estimated 900 million people using its stations a year, and has introduced a three-point plan that aims to tackle the amount of plastic being unnecessarily sent to landfill or littering the environment. Its third initiative is to expand a coffee grounds strategy with bio-bean, a partnership that has already used the by-products from nine million cups of coffee to create a sustainable variety of fuel that can be used to power homes.
According to a number of major high-street chain stores that already trade on Network Rail’s property, including Greggs, Caffè Nero and Waitrose, the move by Network Rail is in line with their current sustainability strategy but the blanket ban of plastic cutlery and an enforced cup recycling scheme will help bring in line those that have yet to instigate change.
A coffee cup recycling scheme is currently being trialled at London Victoria and Paddington stations ahead of a planned roll-out, with station retailers depositing waste cups into special bins in staff-only areas – the cups are then reprocessed into new materials for benches, decking and even reusable cups.
Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, said that it had a responsibility to tackle some of the biggest sustainability issues that it faces head on. “Network Rail has already written to the 150 retail brands based in its 20 managed stations, outlining plans to work with them to phase out plastic cutlery and cups. More than 20m cups of coffee are sold to the 900m people who use Network Rail managed stations each year and the work to introduce coffee cup recycling complements Network Rail’s coffee grounds recycling programme with bio-bean,” said Carne, who will retire from his role later in the year.
David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property, said the push to make its stations more sustainable was created for World Environment Day, but illustrated how committed it was to “beat plastic pollution” all year round.
“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,” said Biggs. “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.”
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