First recyclable coffee cup ready to be trialled

With Australians consuming 50,000 takeaway coffees every 30 minutes, Australia’s first recyclable coffee cup will be introduced this month as part of a trial to reduce the impact of coffee cups on landfill, with cafes and specialty coffee roasters across Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney the first to test the exclusive concept.

Detpak, an Australian-owned specialist paper and board packaging manufacturer dedicated to the food service industry, has partnered with Smart Planet Technologies to create the RecycleMe cup that is easy for consumers to recycle using the existing paper and cardboard recycling stream, and provides commercial returns for the paper recyclers that aren’t available with existing coffee cups.

The coffee cup comes in 8oz and 12oz sizes and will be used for one week commencing Monday 14 August. Dedicated blue bins will be available at each trial location for customers to dispose of their lids and empty cups. The cups will then be baled up and taken to a paper recycling facility for processing into material that can be turned into new paper and cardboard products.

Detpak general manager for marketing and innovation Tom Lunn said: “Previous trials of dedicated coffee cup recycling bins in Australia last year show there is an appetite to make a difference for the environment and address the war on waste, as paper cups continue to have a huge impact on the volume of landfill globally.

“There’s still a misconception that paper coffee cups can be recycled, when they are actually lined with a plastic membrane of polyethylene (PE) to make them waterproof. This lining proves expensive and difficult for recyclers to separate from paperboard.

The coffee cup is made with a mineral based lining which allows the lining to be easily removed during the recycling process. 96 per cent of the coffee cup can be recycled into new products such as paperback covers and cardboard products. The paper can potentially be recycled in this way up to seven times, compared to the 1 billion paper cups that end up in the landfill each year. It is estimated that only one per cent of plant based lined cups currently make it to commercial composting each year.

Lunn said the new cup technology will be a great forward solution for recycling facilities as they won’t have to change their equipment or invest in special handling.

“We recognise that disposable cup waste is an environmental issue but economics are important too. There is no capital investment required from the paper recycling plant and the RecycleMeTM cup minimises cost implications for businesses in handling paper cups, providing commercial returns for the paper recyclers that they don’t get from the current PE-lined cups,” he said.

Detpak is working with collection partner Veolia to devise a long-term solution that will allow paper cups to be recycled through common paper and board recycling processes, with the aim to have coffee cups available for commercial sale within six months of the trial’s completion. Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB) will be providing consumers with waste and recycling education and importantly auditing the trial program.

RecycleMe coffee cup trials commenced on Monday 14 August in Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney across select partner outlets.


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