Martin Myerscough, chief executive of Frugalpac, claims to have solved the problem of only 1 in 400 paper cups currently being recycled – with most ending up in landfill.
Described as competitively-priced and recyclable in normal paper mills, the Frugalpac cup is made from recycled paper.
The company said that a test by the independent inspection, product testing and certification company Intertek found the carbon footprint of a Frugalpac cup is about half that of many of today’s normal paper cups.
Anti-waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called for action earlier this year that resulted in questions being asked in parliament and several national newspaper front pages.
Approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups are said to be disposed of in the UK every year.
Existing cups are made using virgin paper from mature trees. A thin layer of plastic film is bonded to the paper while it is flat. The film provides the waterproof layer to the cup, without which the cup would leak and go soft. Waterproof chemical agents are also added to the paper.
This flat sheet is then printed and formed into the cup. The plastic film inside the cup is not only bonded tightly to the paper but is also trapped in the seam, adding to the difficulty of recycling.
Existing cups require specialist recycling facilities because the plastic film does not separate from the paper in a normal recycling centre. The specialist process uses a lot more energy and chemicals than normal paper recycling. In most countries, once the cups have left the store, there is no mechanism for transporting them to specialist mills.
At present, there are only two places in the UK that can recycle conventional paper cups. That means only 1 in 400 paper cups actually gets recycled.
But Frugalpac said its cups are made by making the paper into a cup first without adding chemicals to the recycled paper, and then applying a thin plastic liner to the inside. The plastic liner is lightly bonded onto the paper cup. The top of the liner is then rolled over the lip of the cup which looks, feels and performs just like the conventional cup.
Because the liner is so lightly glued in place, when the cup goes to the standard paper mills it separates from the paper in the recycling process. This means Frugalpac cups can be disposed of in newspaper recycling bins.
The paper used to make Frugalpac cups can be recycled up to seven times, typically for newspapers.
As a result of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign, the packaging industry and major coffee retailers launched a Paper Cup Manifesto in June 2016 with the objective of significantly increasing paper cup recovery and recycling rates by 2020.
The manifesto has more than 30 signatories representing each stage of the paper cup supply chain from raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers and retail high street brands to waste and recovery operators and paper reprocessors. They include Starbucks, McDonald’s and Costa.
Myerscough said: “It’s great to see Hugh’s campaign has had such an effect and that there’s now a real commitment across the industry to tackle this problem. People were shocked to learn that existing paper cups are only used once and rarely get recycled.
“We’ve spent the last two years developing our cup and we hope now that coffee chains and cup producers will see Frugalpac as an answer to this issue.
“The unique way we make our cups allows us to use recycled paper and not virgin cardboard from mature trees. It also means we don’t have to add waterproofing agents to the paper. Our cups are acceptable to all normal paper mills.”
“We really hope that Frugalpac becomes the standard in the industry so people can get on with enjoying their coffee without worrying about what damage the cup does to the environment afterwards!”
Click here to read Packaging News’ June feature on cup recycling: ‘Cup half full or half empty?’
Source: Packaging News | Jobs | Production | Design | Innovation