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Bywaters pilots paper coffee cups recycling scheme at UCL

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An estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year, creating around 25,000 tonnes of waste.

The difficulties in recycling paper coffee cups are two-fold – in their composition and in any contaminants.

The scheme involves Bywaters, facilities management partners Sodexo and Tenon Group, and UCL.

It will include all paper coffee cups, paper soft drink cups, paper vending machine cups, and paper water fountain cups from UCL’s buildings in central London.

Bywaters is to provide the logistics and collection of paper coffee cups to be converted into quality packaging.

It will collect designated bins then bale up all paper coffee cups to a mill where they will be pulped and the polymer plastic liner separated so all the paper fibre can be recovered and recycled.

The majority of cups collected in the scheme from the cafes on site, although used coffee cups from bins are also being accepted.

Coffee cups are usually collected together with other dry mixed recycling bags collected loose in tail lift vehicle, rather than bins compacted into a dustcart.

John Glover, managing director of Bywaters, told Packaging News that typical paper mills are designed to remove contaminants associated with typical mixed paper, and they expect a lot of different grades from bright white to office paper to kitchen towels, magazine paper coated in chalk or clay, staples, window envelopes.

The mill being used in this scheme is designed to remove high grade paper from the plastic coating and separate the polymer plastic liner.

“Currently paper cups end up as a low grade of paper. If this trial works how we expect it to, we have the scope to change the collection method so that paper cups are picked out as a separate stream at our Materials Recovery Facility. This means the cups could be included in mixed recycling and still go on to produce high grade white paper.”

Bywaters’ Materials Recovery Facility in East London is capable of processing up to 650,000 tonnes of material a year, recovering over 95% of collected materials including plastics and paper. The company’s aim to help all clients achieve at least 80-90% of their recycling targets through continuous innovation.

 | A PackagingWorld release  ||  September 1,  2017   |||