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Wed 18th Apr 2018 - Update: Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger and Vianet
Costa Coffee pledges to boost coffee cup recycling scheme: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee brand has pledged to recycle as many disposable cups as it sells by 2020 in a bid to reduce landfill waste. Under the scheme 500m coffee cups a year would be recycled, including some sold by rivals, it said. It will encourage waste collection firms to collect the cups by paying them a supplement of £75 per tonne. About 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK, and almost all – 99.75% – are not recycled. They have a mixture of paper and plastic in their inner lining – designed to make them both heat and leakproof. Environmental campaigners have welcomed Costa’s move. Costa said “misconceptions” had arisen about whether a coffee cup could be recycled because of the plastic layer which had “previously been considered difficult to separate”. However, the company said: “The actual issue lies in collecting the cups once they have been disposed of correctly.” Costa and other coffee chains do have recycling collection points for cups in their branches, but most takeaway coffees are consumed elsewhere, including in offices and on the street. Under its new scheme Costa will pay a supplement of £75 to the waste collectors for every tonne of cups collected. As a result the companies will get on average £125 for every tonne of cups they collect, up from £50 – a 150% increase. However, £5 per tonne will go to a firm that will check the scheme is running as it should. The idea is to make it “commercially and financially attractive” for waste collectors to put in place infrastructure to handle the cups – from installing collection points in offices and elsewhere, to sorting them and taking them to recycling plants. Five waste collection firms have been involved in developing the new scheme, Veolia, Biffa, Suez, Grundon and First Mile. Grundon’s sales and marketing director Bradley Smith said Costa was helping to create the right conditions where paper cups could become a valuable recycled material. “This provides increased stability and confidence in the market, which will help waste management companies like Grundon to extend paper cup recycling services to more customers,” he added.

Pret A Manger adverts banned over natural claim: Pret A Manger adverts that implied its products are “natural” despite some containing artificial additives have been withdrawn after an Advertising Standards Authority ruling. The company was forced to remove two adverts from its website and Facebook that claimed its products were natural and without “obscure chemicals”. The food and farming charity Sustain said that this implied Pret’s food was free from artificial additives, and complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Pret said its mission statement was to “create handmade, natural food, avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food on the market today”. But it said Sustain had “mischaracterised” this as an “absolute, objective claim that Pret A Manger’s products contained only natural ingredients and were additive free”. Pret told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the statement was “expressed as a ‘mission’ and was therefore an ideal state or their ultimate goal” and therefore “very different from a claim that Pret A Manger had arrived at that ideal state”. The ASA said consumers were likely to interpret the claims to mean that Pret’s foods were natural as they did not contain obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives. It said: “We concluded that because the ads contained some claims that Pret A Manger’s food was ‘natural’ when some products contained artificial additives, those claims were misleading and breached the Code.” It ruled that the two ads must not appear again and told Pret “to ensure their ads did not claim or imply that their food was ‘natural’ unless their products and ingredients were in line with consumer expectations of the term ‘natural”’. Clare Clough, food and coffee director at Pret, said: “We do, of course, take on board the views of the ASA and have already made the requested changes. We cherish the relationship we have with our customers. We believe we represent Pret’s food honestly and we always welcome feedback.” Chris Young, the coordinator of Sustain’s Real Bread Campaign, said: “We welcome this ban, which sets a precedent that sends a clear message to food companies that unless they walk the natural food walk, it’s misleading to talk the natural food talk.”

Vianet reports profits likely to be ahead of last year’s £3.32m: Vianet Group, the provider of actionable data and business insight through devices connected to its Internet of Things (“IOT”) platform, has reported, in a trading update for the year ended 31 March 2018, that trading for the second half of the year has been largely as anticipated and, as a result, the group’s full year profits will be broadly in line with market expectations and ahead of last year’s outturn of £3.32 million. The company stated: “As such, the board intends to recommend a maintained final dividend of 4.0 pence per share. The Smart Machines division continues to deliver growth in connected devices and penetration into the European market. The integration of the recent Vendman acquisition and bedding in of the material contract win with a global coffee company are both going well, as is progress on increasing the proportion of recurring revenue as a percentage of new sales. Whilst Smart Machines revenue stream transition from capital sales to recurring annuity suppresses short term financial performance, it is providing greater visibility and quality of future earnings for this division. The Smart Zones divisional contribution is slightly down year on year. However, investment in Pubco data analytics capability and its increased automation of transactional processes will help to sustain future contribution despite the challenges faced in its customers’ core market of UK pub retailing.” Chairman James Dickson said: “The group will again deliver good year-on-year profit growth. Importantly, this has been achieved whilst shifting the balance of smart machines sales from capital to recurring annuity based income. The group’s medium to long term prospects are exciting, particularly for telemetry and payment solutions for the coffee vending market, where momentum is being boosted by good progress integrating the Vendman acquisition, and better visibility on delivery of the material contract win with a global coffee company.”

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