One of the most prolific sources of pollution – the single-use coffee cup – could soon be eradicated from landfill after an Australian business developed a new method to recycle them into paper.
Because of the film used to make them water-tight, disposable coffee cups have traditionally been consigned to the rubbish after use, rather than being recycled alongside other paper and cardboard products.
“How the cardboard and plastic behave in the recycling process – particularly during pulping - is the source of all the controversy. If the cardboard fibres remain attached to the plastic they can’t be turned back into paper products and therefore become a waste product,” Planet Ark explains on its website.
However, food packaging manufacturer Detpak, part of the family-owned Detmold Group headquartered in Adelaide, has launched a new system that uses an easily removable lining on the cups, allowing them to then be pulped and turned into recycled paper.
According to Detpak’s marketing and innovation manager Tom Lunn, Australians toss over 1 billion of these disposable cups into landfill each year.
“Our RecycleMe™ System is a total end-to-end solution, turning takeaway cups into recycled paper products and contributing to positive global environmental change,” said Mr Lunn.
Mr Lunn told My Business that Detpak spent three years trialling alternative coatings on the cups before launching the current design.
“We came across the Smart Planet Earth Coating in our research and made contact with this technology company out of the US. This partnership has grown to the point where we are working together globally to bring recyclable takeaway cups to the industry,” he said.
“Once Detpak successfully manufactured cups using the next generation coating, they then worked with recyclers and paper mills to establish the used cup collection system and to trial the technology in full scale Australian facilities.
“The trialling of this technology, establishing of collection and recycling partnerships and now the commercialisation phase have taken almost two years.”
In a bid to capture the used coffee cups, Detpak has partnered with Shred-X, which operates around 50,000 collection points nationwide, to collect the cups. Their lids will also be collected and recycled under the partnership.
A number of cafes and coffee chains have already been enlisted to take up the recycling initiative, including Tim Adams Specialty Coffee in Queensland, Veneziano Coffee Roasters in NSW and Seven Seeds Coffee in Victoria.
Detpak will also be working with fast food chain Hungry Jacks to trial the system in around 20 of its stores in NSW and Victoria.
The launch of the new cups and collection system was timed to coincide with Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, which this year runs from Monday to Sunday (12-18 November).
The Detmold Group has been owned and operated by the Detmold family since 1948. According to its website, the company employs 3,000 people across 17 countries and manufactures products in seven nations.
Its other brands include Detmold Packaging, Paperpak and Custom Cartons.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.