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DS Smith on a mission to recycle 2.5 billion coffee cups per year

United Kingdom – Following months of in-depth research, UK-based packaging and paper company DS Smith has found what it claims to be a solution to the recycling of coffee cups. Using its paper mill in south-east England, the company believes it could recycle the 2.5 billion coffee cups discarded by British coffee lovers each year.

Every day in the UK, one in five people visits a coffee shop. Currently, only one in every 400 cups is recycled while just 1% of consumers bring their own reusable cups.

‘We have been working around the clock to solve the throwaway coffee cup challenge, as enjoying a latte has become part of British culture,’ comments Peter Clayson, general manager for DS Smith Recycling. ‘We could recycle up to 2.5 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.’

According to Clayson, there are two challenges to recycling such 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,’ he explains.

If DS Smith can work 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’, says Clayson.

DS Smith has written to the UK government calling 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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