A CUMBRIAN waste management company is doing its bit for the planet by handing reusable coffee cups to its customers.

Cumbria Waste Group has launched the initiative in a bid to encourage people to use less plastic and reduce the amount that is not being correctly disposed of.

Charles Riddell, director of Cumbria Waste Group, said: "Plastic, particularly bottles, are relatively easy to recycle but people are still finding it difficult to do. You also only have to look at most roadsides in the UK to see plastic which has been thrown away as litter instead of being put in recycling containers.

"We now use about 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago but we can optimise their lifespan by recycling and, even more importantly, reusing items as many times as possible.

"Coffee cups are a good example because in the UK we get through some 2.5bn takeaway coffee cups every year.

"This is enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times, but just 0.25 per cent of these cups are recycled.”

He added takeaway coffee cups were notoriously difficult to recycle as they are sealed with a polyethylene (plastic) lining which is bonded tightly to the paper and there are only three facilities in the UK that recycle them.

"A reusable coffee cup only needs to be used 15 times to break even on its life cycle, so every use after that is having a positive impact on the planet.

"As a waste management company we are very aware of our own environmental responsibilities and we strive continuously to improve our performance through our operations.

"We can all do more by reducing, reusing and recycling the waste we produce and the coffee cups are a good example of how you can do this."