Two waste firms have joined forces to create a new waste paper collection scheme, directly targeting waste coffee and tea cups.
Australian waste company Closed Loop Environmental Solutions and Simply Waste will launch Simply Cups from August 1, a collection service aimed at reducing paper cup waste in the Thames Valley area.
The partnership will initially offer the service to manufacturers and organisations operating in the supply chain, as well as beverage and hospitality outlets within the M25 but it hopes to expand the service nationwide.
Waste will be collected from companies across the supply chain, while there is expected to be no added costs for customers with Simply Waste.
Because of their composition – they are primarily made of high-strength paper with a 5% thin coating of polyethylene – paper cups are seen as being a waste stream that is difficult to recycle.
The partnership has highlighted that previous attempts to recycle the material at a successful rate had failed.
According to the two firms, technological advances have now made it easier to separate the polyethylene lining from the cardboard at an “economically viable rate”.
A new process – pioneered by Cumbria-based firm James Cropper plc – involves the cup waste submerged in a warmed solution, which separates the plastic coating from the fibre.
The polyethylene is skimmed off, leaving water and pulp. Once filtered, the companies claim that a high-grade pulp remains, which is suitable for luxury papermaking and packaging.
James Cropper, which operates the Reclaimed Fibre Plant in the Lake District, has confirmed it will receive material collected by Simply Cups once it has tested the quality of the product for its manufacturing arm.
The firm has found it difficult to secure suitable volumes of paper cups during the past 12 months since the plant opened and until now has relied solely on post-industrial sources for feedstock.
Commenting on the innovation, a spokesman for the Simply Cups partnership argued the waste industry had been “a bit lethargic” in addressing the problem of recycling paper cups, and said it takes only business ingenuity to see the potential benefits.
“For too long paper cup recycling has literally been in its cups,” said Peter Goodwin, director of Closed Loop, said: “Our new service will provide any business, operating within the hospitality and beverage supply chain, with a cup collection and recycling service that will in fact help reduce their overall waste disposal costs. This will be game-changing for cup manufacturers and beverage outlets that are have been caught in the media spotlight due to the absence of any recycling solutions.”
James Capel, managing director of Simply Waste Solutions, added: “The bulk collection of cups will be processed here in the UK, and once the materials are recovered they will be manufactured into new end-use products all within the UK, which is a perfect example of how recycling should work.”
It is currently estimated that a total of 2.5 billion paper cups are used in the UK each year, most of which are likely to be disposed of via landfill or energy from waste.