UK specialty paper company James Cropper has opened what it says is the world’s first facility that will recycle disposable coffee cups and reuse the pulp to make paper.
Until now, the plastic content of cups has made them unsuitable for use in papermaking, James Cropper says. In the UK alone, the company estimates about 2.5 billion paper cups go to landfill.
Disposable cups are made up of between 90 percent and 95 percent high-strength paper with a 5 percent thin coating of polyethylene. After four years of development, James Cropper says its technology can not only recycle the fiber content in cup waste but also recycle the plastic coating. The recycling technology separates out the plastic incorporated in the cups leaving paper pulp that can be used in high-quality papers.
Earlier this year Starbucks began selling $1 reusable cups to customers at all of its North American stores in an effort to curb waste. The white plastic cup with the green Starbucks logo looks like the coffee maker’s traditional white paper cups. It holds a tall or grande-size drink and is recyclable.
Another coffee container for which the industry is struggling to find recycling solutions is the single-serve coffee pod.
More than a tenth of US households — 12 percent — own single-cup coffee brewers, says the National Coffee Association, and that number is on the rise. But one-cup coffee pods are not easily recyclable, and the coffee industry is looking for more sustainable options, writes Waste & Recycling News.
Single-cup brewers are a growing trend among consumers. While just 12 percent of US households own single-cup brewers — up from just 3 percent in 2007 — 36 percent of those say they acquired it in the past six months.
Photo Credit: Celeste Lindell via Flickr