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First technology to recycle disposable coffee cups into paper

Disposable coffee cups can now be recycled into high quality paper products with innovative technology.

Specialist paper group James Cropper plc has commissioned a £5m reclaimed fibre plant at its production mill in Kendal, Cumbria. This will include coffee cup recycling technology, taking up to 900 million cups per year and generating 10,000 tonnes of fibre to manufacture paper.

Until now, the plastic content of disposable coffee cups has rendered them unfit for paper recycling, according to the company.

Disposable cups are made of up to 95% high strength paper with a 5% coating of polyethylene.

Cups are softened in a warmed solution, which separates 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.”

An estimated 2.5 billion of these cups to go to landfill every year, according to the company.

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