Paper firm James Cropper is to open a £5 million coffee cup recycling plant


Specialist paper and advanced materials group James Cropper has developed the technology to recycle disposable coffee cups into high quality paper products.

As a result, it has decided to open a £5 million reclaimed fibre plant using this technology at its production mill in Kendal, Cumbria.


Until now, the plastic content of the cups has made them unsuitable for use in papermaking. In the UK alone, an estimated 2.5 billion paper cups go to landfill.

James Cropper’s recycling technology separates out the plastic incorporated in the cups leaving paper pulp that can be used in the highest quality papers.

Disposable cups are made of up to 95 per cent strength paper with a thin 5 per cent coating of polyethylene. After four years of development, James Cropper can now not only recycle the fibre content in cup waste, but also recycle the plastic coating, giving a sustainable solution to the global problem of disposable cup waste.

The process involves softening the cup waste in warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre. The plastic is skimmed off, pulverised and recycled, leaving water and pulp. Impurities are filtered out leaving high grade pulp suitable for use in luxury papers and packaging materials.

James Cropper chief executive Phil Wild said: “This is the latest in a long history of innovation that has kept James Cropper ahead of the game for nearly 170 years and six generations. We were one of the world’s first producers of coloured papers, today the preferred choice for packaging of numerous global luxury brands, from fashion houses and champagne producers, such as Krug, to smartphone giants and department stores like Selfridges.

“We were also a pioneer in the production of paper-like non-woven materials from carbon and other fibres.”