Veolia brews up waste minimisation success for Defence with coffee cup recycling trial

A successful coffee cup recycling trial managed by Veolia for the Department of Defence is set to divert up to 3 million coffee cups from landfill every year. 

Working with Defence and the Army & Air Force Canteen Service (AAFCANs), Veolia has already collected and recycled more than 45,000 single-use coffee cups from the Williamtown RAAF base. It marks the first step in the department’s ambition to entirely eliminate plastic-lined, single-use coffee cups from its bases across Australia. 

Takeaway coffee cups are classified as hard to recycle because they need to undergo dedicated separation processes to remove the plastic lining from the paper shell. As this cannot be achieved through the regular mixed recycling stream, the cups often end up in landfill where they cannot be recovered for reuse.

To combat this issue, Veolia and Defence implemented a recycling trial of cups with removable linings, with seven dedicated recycling bins installed on site for easy disposal. Over a period of 9 months, almost 50% of the coffee cups used on site were collected for recycling.

Tony Roderick, Veolia’s chief operating officer for waste, said the results of the trial have been very promising. 

“We have seen a clear, upward trend in the use of dedicated recycling bins by the men and women at Defence which is really encouraging and something we’re confident will continue to grow,” he said. 

“It takes effort from everyone to drive environmental change. Working with Defence on this progressive initiative, we saw a peak rate of an incredible 82% recycling in the last month of the initial trial. This is what ecological transformation looks like.”

Since the inception of the recycling program, Defence has introduced stronger policies on waste reduction, including the commitment to eliminate problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025. 

The department continues to prioritise sustainability through efficient waste management activities, aiming to phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025, as part of its National Waste Policy Action Plan.

Mr Roderick said the initial trial was just the beginning.

“Working closely with Defence, we are now looking to undertake a trial of compostable cups that will test new and better ways to reduce impact on the environment,” he said. 

“You can't help but be excited by the fact your caffeine hit doesn't have to come at the expense of the environment.”





Dan Pagoda, External Relations Manager | +61 408 753 982 | [email protected]

Veolia Group aims to become the benchmark company for ecological transformation. Present on five continents with nearly 220,000 employees, the Group designs and deploys useful, practical solutions for the management of water, waste and energy that are contributing to a radical turnaround of the current situation. Through its three complementary activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, to preserve available resources and to renew them. In 2021, the Veolia Group provided 79 million inhabitants with drinking water and 61 million with sanitation, produced nearly 48 million megawatt hours and recovered 48 million tonnes of waste. Veolia Environnement (Paris Euronext: VIE) achieved consolidated revenue of 28,508 billion euros in 2021.