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Cropper premieres coffee cup recycling technology

United Kingdom – James Cropper, the UK specialist materials group and maker of fine paper, received royal approval when unveiling a £5 million (US$ 7.6 million) plant described as ‘the first in the world’ dedicated to recycling disposable coffee cups. Queen Elizabeth II herself was present at the launch of the facility, which will turn the cups into ‘high-quality paper products’.

The new plant is based on technology developed by Cropper itself over the course of four years and was constructed next to the 168-year-old company’s production mill at Kendal in north-west England. The goal is to process the millions of paper coffee cups that are used each year and were previously ‘unsuitable’ for conventional recycling as well as papermaking, says company chairman Mark Cropper. Owing to their 5% plastic content, up to 2.5 billion cups are consigned to UK landfills each year.

Contaminant no longer

‘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,’ he explains. ‘Our technology changes that, and also addresses a major environmental waste problem and accompanying legislation.’

The technology softens the cup waste in a warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre. The plastic is then skimmed off, pulverised and recycled, leaving pulp that can also be recycled. Cropper adds that impurities are filtered out, leaving high-grade pulp suitable for use in ‘luxury papers and packaging materials’.

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Source: The Telegraph

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