UK company develops coffee cups recycling technology

18 July 2013 (Last Updated July 18th, 2013 18:30)

UK-based paper and advanced materials group James Cropper has developed new technology to recycle disposable coffee cups into high-quality paper products.

Coffee cups

UK-based paper and advanced materials group James Cropper has developed new technology to recycle disposable coffee cups into high-quality paper products.

The company is opening a £5m reclaimed fibre plant at its production mill in Kendal, Cumbria that will use this recycling technology.

The company said that the technology was in development for four years. Itattempts to offer a sustainable solution to the problem of disposable cup waste by recycling the fibre content and also the plastic coating.

Disposable cups comprise up to 95% high strength paper with a 5% thin coating of polyethylene.

The cup waste is softened in a warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre. The plastic is skimmed off and recycled, and impurities are filtered out from the pulp that remains, which is suitable for use in luxury papers and packaging materials.

James Cropper CEO Phil Wild said that the company produces coloured papers for packaging of various brands, from fashion houses and champagne producers such as Krug, to smartphone companies and department stores like Selfridges.

"We were also a pioneer in the production of paper-like non-woven materials from carbon and other fibres," Wild added.


Image: James Cropper's recycling technology isolates the plastic incorporated in the coffee cups. Photo: courtesy of digitalart.