James Cropper launched its CupCycling technology in 2017 to upcycle used disposable coffee cups into luxury papers and bespoke packaging.

Until now, the 5% of waste plastic removed from each cup was being used as a source for energy recovery in the production of recycled paper.

However, by working with partners Cumbria Waste and New Horizon Plastics in North Wales, recycling the waste into new plastic products has been made possible, which is the preferred end-of-life option based on Life Cycle Analysis.

The plastic is made into pellets and then used in commercial packaging and agricultural applications. Meanwhile, the paper fibre from the cup is made into new paper products and premium packaging through the CupCycling technology.

James Cropper R&D programme lead Joanne Storey told Packaging Gateway: “Sustainable packaging is no longer an option, but rather an essential and paper plays a significant role.”

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The manufacturer has also commissioned new commercial packaging that protects paper from moisture ingress during transport, with 30% recycled content. The new wrap has a high stretch percentage, which has reportedly enabled the papermaker to reduce the amount of protective plastic packaging it uses by a third.

Defra takeback scheme delay

This upgrade follows the delay of the mandatory paper cup takeback scheme by the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) until October 2025.

The Foodservice Packaging Association, supported by James Cropper, believes this could have a negative impact on the growth of retailer support and participation.

James Cropper fibre operations group leader Rob Tilsley comments: “Organisations from across the cup recycling ecosystem have invested heavily in supporting the mandatory takeback scheme. Seeing this fantastic opportunity delayed is an unnecessary setback.”