This information has flown over the airwaves from the United States, where a business called Smart Planet Technologies have created the ‘reCUP’, which is the first paper cup designed for paper recycling.
The difference for paper recycling between the reCUP and traditional paper cups is that the reCUP is still desirable as a recycled material. This is because there is no coating on the cups that is deemed damaging to recycling equipment. Generally, paper cups have a coating that clogs up recycling machinery.
Too much wastage!
In the US, more than 50 billion paper cups go to landfill, where it takes decades, or even longer, for them to decompose. The benefit of the reCUP is that it doesn’t cost anything extra to make or to sell, but will allow for paper recycling, which benefits the economy. The new earth friendly coating is even deemed superior as a barrier to previous cup coatings.
The technology is already being applied by various food outlets in the US, who are using the coating for food containers, so that they too can be recycled. If the US switched to recyclable cups and then recycled all of them, 700,000 tonnes of paper would be recovered, which is equivalent to roughly 8.4 million trees, each year.
Our great question is, why did nobody plug this gap in the paper recycling chain sooner? This has been an issue for decades, which means hundreds of millions of trees could have been saved. The 8.4 million trees that could be recovered from American recycling does not represent the far larger amount that could be recycled internationally. The US represents just 4.4% of the world population, so that may put into perspective just how many trees could be saved through this new paper recycling progression. Some may that 8.4 million, 84 million or 840 million are just a tiny fraction of the 3 trillion estimated trees on Earth, but they would be wrong to underestimate the importance of the tree. Without trees, we’d all be dead.
Paper Recycling for cups in the UK?
How long until we see the same technology reach the UK? Hopefully sooner than later, although we have no information to provide you. Currently cardboard or paper cups are generally made from recycled content, especially from the more progressive businesses, so hopefully now a paper cup that can be recycled will prove appealing to them. It would not be a huge job to fit another bin to encourage paper recycling anywhere that sells hot drinks!
What are your thoughts on the introduction of recyclable paper cups in the UK? Tweet us @NatRecycling