DS Smith crack coffee cup recycling problem – but need collection infrastructure to improve

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Paper recycler DS Smith has announced that it has developed a solution to the coffee cup recycling problem and believes that it could recycle up to 2.5 billion cups annually using its Kemsley paper mill in Kent. 

But it said that collection and sorting infrastructure needs to improve before it will be able to do so.  

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The company is able to take coffee cups at its paper mill, and remove the plastic lining, to give it a feedstock of paper for recycling.  

DS Smith general manager Peter Clayson said: “We have been working around the clock to solve the throw-away coffee cup challenge. We could recycle up to two and a half billion cups each year, but we need the recycling collection infrastructure to be far better if we are to reach the goal of recycling every last cup.”  

He added that there are two challenges to recycling a high quantity of coffee cups. This being removing the plastic lining from the cups and ensuring the cups have not been badly soiled by food waste. In particular, if people use the cups as a mini-bin, this can lead to other items contaminating the feedstock.   

By working with local councils, coffee sellers and the waste management sector to improve segregation of the cups, and create a collection infrastructure, the general manager believes that it will create a “huge difference”.  

DS Smith has written to the Government to call for measures to support better cup collection. 

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