Finnish packaging companies Huhtamaki and Stora Enso have partnered on a paper cup recycling initiative that is claimed to be the first of its kind in Europe.

The Cup Collective programme aims to recycle used paper cups on an industrial scale and provide consumers and businesses with convenient access to used paper cups, which can then be renewed into valuable recycled raw material.

Managed by UK-based recycling company Co-cre8, the programme will work with partners across the supply chain across Europe.

These will include restaurants, retailers, independent coffee shops, collection partners, waste management operators, transport hubs and policymakers.

The Cup Collective will initially be launched across the Benelux countries, with the first paper cup collection bins to be installed in Brussels and Amsterdam metropolitan areas.

The bins will be located in restaurants, cafés, office buildings and transport hubs.

The Cup Collective programme is designed to be scalable and aims to recycle half a billion paper cups in the first two years.

Huhtamaki and Stora Enso will fund the programme in its early stages, but it is designed to be self-fundable in the future.

Huhtamaki fibre foodservice EAO president Eric Le Lay said: “Huhtamaki is a world leader in developing and manufacturing recyclable fibre products.

“For us, every cup counts. We want to go to the next step and ensure that recyclable cups also get effectively recycled.

“We have combined the best expertise from Huhtamaki and Stora Enso to create this new vision for industrial scale cup collection and recycling.”

The Cup Collective will help the European Union meet its target of recycling 85% of paper and board packaging by 2030.

It is expected to provide the necessary collection infrastructure to increase the recycling rate of wood-fibre in paper cups.

This week, Huhtamaki invested in a sustainable packaging fund run by Swiss venture capital firm Emerald Technology Ventures.