Has DS Smith Cracked The Coffee Cup Recycling Challenge?

Following months of in-depth research, UK-based packaging and paper company, DS Smith, has found a solution to the coffee cup recycling challenge, it says.

Using its state-of-the-art paper mill in Kent, the company believes it could recycle up to the 2.5bn cups discarded by British coffee lovers each year.

Commenting on the announcement, Peter Clayson, General Manager for DS Smith Recycling, said: “We have been working around the clock to solve the throw-away coffee cup challenge, as enjoying a latte has become part of British culture. 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.”

“There are two challenges to recycling a high volume of coffee cups. Firstly, 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.”

“There are two challenges to recycling a high volume of coffee cups. Firstly, 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 local 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.”

Every day in the UK, one in five of us visit a coffee shop. Every year, 2.5bn single-use cups are thrown away – enough to reach around the world more than five times. Currently, we only recycle one in every 400, while just 1% of consumers bring their own reusable cups.

DS Smith has written to government to call for measures to support better cup collection and provided details of its coffee cup recycling capacity to the PCRRG (Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group) of which it is a member, as this new development radically improves the UK’s ability to reprocess its used coffee cups.


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  1. Complex coffee cups with lids and/or disposed food content can be easy converted to energy using a containerised LandGenerator by Unicorn Power Ltd.
    Same goes for multi-layered packaging materials whether contaminated with food waste or not.

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