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Train stations to get greener

Network Rail will ban stations from supplying plastic cutlery and cups
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
London Paddington Station

Network Rail has unveiled plans to tackle three significant environmental issues in the country’s biggest and busiest rail stations.

It will ban retailers in its managed stations from supplying plastic cutlery, introduce a coffee cup recycling scheme and expand the roll out of coffee ground recycling by the end of 2020.

A responsibility to the public

Each year, more than 4m bottles of water and 20m cups of coffee are sold across Network Rail’s managed stations, which are used by 900 million people annually.

As a company a total of 94% of Network Rail’s waste is already diverted from landfill. The organisation says it 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.

Network Rail has already started installing free water fountains in its managed stations. The initiative launched in London Charing Cross in February 2018 and has 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.’

Mark added he was ‘proud’ to announce Network Rail will be ‘tackling some of the biggest sustainability issues we face head on.’

Using coffee grounds for clean fuel

Network Rail has 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 started 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.

The work to introduce coffee cup recycling will complement 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 of Network Rail Property, said Network Rail wants ‘to be a leader in sustainability’, and that the new goals recognise the organisation’s ‘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’, David added.

Click here for more about how Network Rail and bio-bean are converting waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels.

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