• Technology for Recycling Disposable Coffee Cups

Waste Management

Technology for Recycling Disposable Coffee Cups

Jul 17 2013

James Cropper plc (UK), the specialist paper and advanced materials group, has developed technology to recycle disposable coffee cups into high quality paper products, and is opening a £5 million Reclaimed Fibre Plant using this technology at its production mill in Kendal, Cumbria.

Until now, the plastic content of cups has made them unsuitable for use in papermaking. In the UK alone, an estimated 2.5 billion paper cups go to landfill. James Cropper’s recycling technology separates out the plastic incorporated in the cups leaving paper pulp that can be used in the highest quality papers. The new facility is being inaugurated today by Her Majesty The Queen who is visiting James Cropper’s HQ in the English Lake District alongside Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

Disposable cups are made of up to 95% high strength paper with a 5% thin coating of polyethylene (plastic). After four years of development, James Cropper can now not only recycle the fibre content in cup waste but also recycle the plastic coating, giving a sustainable solution to the global problem of disposable cup waste.

The process involves softening the cup waste in a warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre. The plastic is skimmed off, pulverised and recycled, leaving water and pulp. Impurities are filtered out leaving high grade pulp suitable for use in luxury papers and packaging materials.

Mark Cropper, chairman of James Cropper plc, said: “Cup waste is a rich source of high grade pulp fibre, but until now the plastic content made this product a contaminant in paper recycling. Our technology changes that and also addresses a major environmental waste problem and accompanying legislation. We are greatly honoured that Her Majesty the Queen and The Princess Royal are joining us on the occasion of our new plant opening. There is no more fitting way to celebrate this pioneering development”

Phil Wild, CEO of James Cropper plc, added: “This is the latest in a long history of innovation that has kept James Cropper ahead of the game for nearly 170 years and six generations. We were one of the world’s first producers of coloured papers, today the preferred choice for packaging of numerous global luxury brands, from fashion houses and champagne producers, such as Krug, to smartphone giants and department stores like Selfridges.

“We were also a pioneer in the production of paper-like non-woven materials from carbon and other fibres. Today these are used in industries as diverse as US defence programmes to the latest composite cars and aeroplanes. Cropper is also leading on sustainability in these fields by utilising recycled carbon fibre – another world-first that is gaining us attention.”



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