Mandatory Takeback Obligation for Paper Cups – What Do We Know So Far?

In Spring 2021, Government launched its Extended Producer Responsibility Consultation which set out proposals for reforming the UK’s packaging system. For paper cups, Government proposed to introduce a mandatory takeback obligation on retailers selling filled paper cups to increase recycling rates. Now, Defra has now published its summary of responses to the which outline reform decisions and provide industry with an update on what policies will be implemented and when.

What do Extended Producer Responsibility reforms mean for paper cups?

Defra have confirmed the mandatory takeback obligation on sellers of filled fibre-based composite cups, which employ 10 or more full time staff (full time equivalents). This obligation will be introduced from 2024 and will require sellers to provide a dedicated paper cup collection and recycling system in-store. Sellers will also be required to report on their cup sales and collection volumes, which can be done via voluntary takeback scheme.

How can the National Cup Recycling Scheme help?

The National Cup Recycling Scheme is now entering its fifth year as a voluntary extended producer responsibility scheme focusing on paper cups. Having launched in 2018 to provide a solution to the challenges around paper cups, the Scheme is now supported by eight major retailers, five reprocessors and over twenty waste collectors. As the UK’s leading cup recycling scheme, for which Valpak is the Scheme Administrator, the National Cup Recycling Scheme can provide expertise on setting up cup recycling and connect you to a waste collector, as well as answer most cup-related questions! Another key element of the scheme is its ability to track the number of cups collected and recycled each month.

How can I prepare for the mandatory takeback obligation?

1.       Consider factors for setting up cup recycling in-store, such as the space available and number of cups consumed.

2.       Invest in a cup recycling bin – there are a range of options available!

3.       Speak to your waste collecting about collecting paper cups. If not, speak to one of the collectors on the list to see if they can provide a service:

4.       Can’t see a collector in your area? Let us know!

Quick check – will I need to meet the mandatory takeback obligation?

If the answer to the following is, “yes”, you will need to meet the mandatory takeback obligation:

·       Sell filled paper cups.

·       Have more than 10 full time employees.


To find out how the National Cup Recycling Scheme can help, please email