UK opens ‘world’s first’ coffee cup recycling plant

A £5m plant thought to be the first in the world to recycle disposable coffee cups into high quality paper products was opened yesterday by the Queen.

The technology has been developed by Kendal-based James Cropper, a specialist paper and materials company, which has constructed the fibre plant at its production mill in Cumbria.

The company says the millions of paper coffee cups that are used each year have been unsuitable for paper making until now because of the five per cent plastic content, resulting in an estimated 2.5 million cups ending up in landfill in the UK annually.

However, James Cropper’s unique technology softens the cup waste in a warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre.

The plastic is then skimmed off, pulverised and recycled, leaving water and pulp that can also be recycled. Impurities are filtered out leaving high grade pulp suitable for use in luxury papers and packaging materials.

Mark Cropper, chairman of James Cropper, said: “Cup waste is a rich source of high grade pulp fibre, but until now the plastic content made this product a contaminant in paper recycling. Our technology changes that and also addresses a major environmental waste problem and accompanying legislation.”

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