Network Rail has today announced plans to tackle three significant environmental issues in the country’s biggest and busiest rail stations.
- Ban retailers from supplying plastic cutlery and cups in managed stations by the end of 2020
- Implement a coffee cup recycling scheme for managed stations by the end of 2020
- Expand the roll-out of coffee ground recycling to all managed stations by the end of 2020
The announcements have been made to mark the UN’s World Environment Day and are part of Network Rail’s ongoing environmental efforts and its ambition to be a market leader in sustainability.
As a company a total of 94% of Network Rail’s waste is already diverted from landfill. The organisation now wants to use its position as one the UK’s largest retail landlords to encourage the adoption of more green initiatives within its managed stations, delivering benefits to its 900m station users.
These goals also complement the organisation’s recent initiative to begin installing free water fountains in its managed stations, launching in London Charing Cross in February this year. It has already been expanded to Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston, each location saving up to 1,000 plastic bottles each week.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Network Rail has an important responsibility to the British public which goes much further than travel. We manage Britain’s biggest and busiest stations and we have to ensure we are using that role to make sensible and ethical decisions to protect our environment.
“That’s why today we’re proud to announce that we will be tackling some of the biggest sustainability issues we face 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. It has also begun a back of house trial of coffee cup recycling at London stations Victoria and Paddington. The trial sees cups collected from station retailers and placed into special bins in staff-only areas before being taken offsite to be reprocessed into new materials for benches, decking and even reusable 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 successful coffee grounds recycling programme with bio-bean. The partnership has seen coffee grounds from more than 9m cups of coffee recycled into a clean fuel for the home since July 2017. Network Rail wants to expand this to all its managed stations by the end of 2020.
David Biggs, managing director, Network Rail Property, added: “This year’s theme for World Environment Day is “beat plastic pollution”, and we are serious about making positive changes to do just that.
“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 – by the end of 2020 our goal is that the retailers at our managed stations will no longer provide plastic cutlery or cups.
“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.
“We’ve been inspired by the many retailers that are already taking important steps to find solutions to this widespread problem, and now we want to work alongside our retail partners to create an even bigger impact.”
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We fully support the initiative from Network Rail.
“Wetherspoon has already stopped using plastic straws in its pubs and is undertaking a number of other environmentally friendly initiatives across its pubs.
“These will be complemented by the actions of Network Rail.”
Jonathan Jowett at Greggs, said: “We welcome the news from Network Rail and agree with the objectives. As a responsible business, we are working to replace all unnecessary plastic in our operations. In addition, and in line with Network Rail’s plans for 2020, we are currently participating in a number of coffee cup recycling trials.”
Glyn House, managing director at Caffè Nero said: “We support Network Rail’s ambitions to mitigate the impact we all have on the environment and look forward to working with them to achieve these goals together.”
Simon Twigger, MD of SSP UK & Ireland, said: “We welcome Network Rail’s announcement today and have already made a number of commitments in support of this agenda. Earlier this year, we took the decision to de-list plastic stirrers, and by the end of the year, only wooden stirrers will be offered. Additionally, in all of our coffee shop and ‘grab and go’ units in Network Rail locations, including Ritazza, Upper Crust and Starbucks (which we run under license) plastic cutlery and straws are currently only available behind the counter, and in the majority of cases, only on request.
“In our Starbucks units, reusable coffee cups are already widely available for purchase, and by the end of the year, they will be on offer in all of our other coffee shops too. However, we recognise that in a travel setting, many customers will still require disposable cups, and we very much welcome and support any initiative which makes it easier for these to be recycled.”
Tor Harris, head of responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said: “The environment is important to all of us so anything to reduce single-use plastic can only be positive. We’ve already announced that we won’t be offering disposable cups from Autumn 2018, so share the same aims as Network Rail.”
A spokesperson from LEON said: “As a business we have made a commitment to reducing environmental waste and our impact on the planet. This includes our recent announcement that we will be replacing plastic straws and cutlery with compostable alternatives.
“All LEON food packaging is already recyclable and we have produced a reusable LEON coffee cup in partnership with John Lewis.”