‘Game-changing’ coffee cup project to provide retailers with cost-effective recycling service

The UK could be set for a coffee cup recycling revolution as British paper cup recycler Simply Cups has thrown its weight behind a project that provides businesses and consumers with a cup that can be recycled at traditional paper mills.

Working in collaboration with materials engineering company Smart Planet Technologies (SPT), Simply Cups will recover and recycle a paper coffee cup, called the reCup, which contains up to 50% less plastic content thanks to an inside coating blended with materials. This means the cup is engineered to be compatible with the existing recycling equipment used at UK paper mills.  

Commenting on the initiative, Simply Cups co-founder Peter Goodwin said: “SPT has rightly recognised that, for its products to be recycled, they first need to be collected separately at source and then forwarded to a paper reprocessing plant. As the only organisation in the UK operating this service, Simply Cups was the obvious choice.”


The reCup is expected to be sold in the UK at a cost comparable with traditional paper cups, through packaging solutions provider Four Aces, a founding member of the Simply Cups scheme. 

Membership to the initiative will also provide a dedicated collective service for the cup which will then be transferred to paper mills that have approved the product for acceptance under the same criteria and value as other paper products.  

Four Aces managing director Chris Penn said: “We have been looking for the most efficient way to resolve the problem of recycling paper cups and a new cup that can be processed through existing recycling equipment is a major step in the right direction. 

“We are committed to greater sustainability in disposable packaging and so we’re enormously excited to be integral in the roll out of the game-changing reCUP in the UK.”

Waste decaf

The issues surrounding paper cups were brought to light at a national level by last year’s Hugh’s War on Waste TV series, which reported that more than 5,000 coffee cups are discarded each minute, but less than 1% are actually recycled. 

Simply Cup’s collaboration builds upon the firm’s cost-efficient collection and recycling service, launched in 2014, which recycles single-use paper cups for the likes of McDonald’s and Costa. Simply Cups co-founder Goodwin has previously stressed the need for greater collaboration throughout coffee cup supply chains as a way of tackling the issue.

The fallout from the War on Waste series has already led to a new recycling technique being explored which could create a potential solution to the polyethylene and paper relationship. Starbucks is set to test the viability of cups developed by Frugalpac, which has replaced the plastic lining with a thin film that is specifically designed to separate from the paper during the recycling process.

Elsewhere, Costa Coffee has removed the recycling symbol from all of its paper cups and is now trialling in-store recycling systems at 50 of its UK stores.

George Ogleby

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