Did you know that more than nine out of 10 paper cups sent for recycling end up in landfill or the incinerator?
Why? Because despite appearing “green”, most traditional paper cups are difficult to recycle because of a plastic (Polyethylene) coating designed to hold them together and stop them from leaking.
Although the plastic can be removed, many recyclers are loathed to do so. The reason? The cups must be collected and processed separately from established recycling streams, and while this can and does happen it all adds to the cost of the recycled material, so making the process uncompetitive for manufacturers.
The result is that countless millions of paper cups a year around the world are rejected for recycling. They are either burned or put into landfills – and this is why recycling rates across the globe remain so low.
An unwanted by-product of disposable paper cups
It is estimated that in the UK, only one in 400 disposable cups is recycled. One unwanted by-product of this is the creation of 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The same emission as 33,300 cars.
The problem is fuelled by a lack of consumer understanding. As many as three out of four people wrongly believe that these plastic-coated cups can be recycled. And as things stand today, according to the World Wildlife Fund it is only set to get worse with the growth of disposable cups set to grow in the UK by 33 per cent by 2030.
What then is the answer? Although dedicated recycling schemes have had some success, the solution boils down to simple economics. The only true way forward is for cups that can go straight into pre-separated recycling streams.
Over the last few years, a new generation of paper “eco” cups has emerged that is not laminated with plastic. Instead, they are coated with a water-based barrier or with a mineralized resin blend.
Both are strong enough to keep the cups together while being used but the key advantage is that they can be recycled directly with ordinary paper and board waste.
A comment from All In One Merchandise
Damien Ellis, managing director of All In One Merchandise, said: “These technologies are a real game-changer. For no longer do we have to accept paper cups that cannot be recycled. The environmental benefits are simply staggering.
“As a direct replacement for traditional single-use cups, they are ideal for use in a huge variety of environments. From schools to canteens, offices to gyms, not to mention all kinds of events. The list goes on and on.
“An added advantage for businesses is that they can demonstrate to users, through clear content messaging on the cups, their full commitment to the drive to a more sustainable future in foodservice and general packaging.