100 million coffee cups needed to start recycling program

The takeaway cup holding your morning flat white could soon be turned into outdoor furniture, building materials, or food trays.
Nanjing Night Net

Australians have recently been grappling with the fact at least one billion disposable coffee cups end up in landfill each year because the thin plastic lining often stops them from being recycled.

Stacked end-to-end, one billion coffee cups would stretch 120,000 kilometres, or three times around the world.

Environmental solutions company Closed Loop is hoping to ease the overwhelming waste problem by February, through its Simply Cups initiative, which aims to collect 100 million cups to start up a commercially viable recycling facility.

Since a public campaign in Sydney and Melbourne’s financial districts last year, Simply Cups has collected paper cups from large companies such as ANZ and Australia Post, from schools, universities, and office buildings like the Rialto building in Melbourne and Herbert Smith Freehills law firm in Sydney.

Now 7-Eleven has announced it will put Simply Cups recycling bins in 200 of its stores, at universities and construction sites from March next year, with the aim of recycling the 70 million cups its consumers use each year.

Simply Cups’ Rob Pascoe said the program had been collecting cups for four months, using them to trial a recycling method which separates the paper and plastic. It then turns the paper to valuable pulp, and the plastic to a form that can be used in other items.

The machinery will be running by February, and will process between four and six tonnes of cups a day at a plant in Adelaide, or in a mobile facility that will go interstate.

Mr Pascoe said people were still shocked to discover coffee cups cannot be recycled through council depots.

“I think people believed in paper cups, and it was one of the main reasons we changed from polystyrene cups about 10 years ago,” Mr Pascoe said.

“People were thinking ‘that’s great, they’re paper and they can be recycled’, but they can’t.”

Simply Cups also wants to put 100 million of its own cups into the market, with 1?? from every cup used to fund the recycling, and is encouraging other big businesses to sign up to their collection service.

It also supports the use of reusable cups, like KeepCup, which experienced a 403 per cent increase in online sales after the ABC’s War on Waste program aired.

Environmentalist Tim Silverwood, the co-founder of marine pollution action group Take 3, said there should be a greater focus on phasing out single use items.

“It’s things like plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic take-away containers. It’s just not on, in this day and age, to be producing items that we use for a couple of minutes that last on our planet forever.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.