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DS Smith: 'We could recycle all coffee cups'

DS Smith Recycling has said it could recycle up to two-and-a-half billion disposable coffee cups at its Kemsley mill annually if there was a much improved national collection infrastructure.

Peter Clayson DS Smith

Peter Clayson DS Smith

According to general manager Peter Clayson (pictured), the company had been “working around the clock” for months at the Kent facility on the challenge of the throwaway industry and culture.

He said it would be able to incorporate a percentage of the coffee cup feedstock into the 900,000 tonnes a year of paper processed at Kemsley.

As part of the research, DS Smith took controlled volumes of coffee cups and blended them with traditional paper feed stocks as part of the recycling process. The company found that by blending controlled amounts of coffee cups with conventional feedstock it could produce finished paper products to the same consistent high quality standard.

Plastics element can be removed in the early pulping process and used in the energy recovery system on site, helping to power the mill.

”We could recycle up to two-and-a-half billion cups each year, but we need the recycling collection infrastructure to be far better if we are to reach the goal of recycling every last cup,” Clayson said.

It also needs consumers to avoid unnecessary contamination of the cups with other materials and to use the required ‘binfrastructure’ when disposing of them.

“There are two challenges to recycling a high volume of coffee cups. There is the plastic lining that must be removed from the cups, then we need to ensure that the cups have not been too badly soiled by food waste.

“If we can work together with councils, coffee sellers and the waste management sector to improve segregation of the cups and develop a comprehensive collection infrastructure, we can make a huge difference together.”

DS Smith has written to ministers to call for measures to support better cup collection and provided details of its recycling capacity to the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group, of which it is a member.

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