British engineer lining path to recycled paper coffee cups

July 4, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

British entrepreneur and engineer Martin Myerscough has a plan to save the vast numbers of coffee cups that do not get recycled. You may be among the many who, when passing the coffee cups you see in the trashbins, see the waste—cups fashioned from trees that get used for 30 minutes and then tossed— but you figure, as many people do, that the cups will get recycled. Myerscough knows better and wants to do something about it. In the UK 2.5 billion coffee cups are used every year and most do not get recycled. They get sent off to landfills or incinerated. But why?

Existing cups are made from flat cardboard which has a thin film of plastic glued to it. The cardboard is then formed into the cup. The film is bonded very strongly to the . The film provides the waterproof layer to the cup. Without this layer the cup would leak and the cup would go soft. The Green Your Cup site said specialist recycling plants would need to heat the cups to very to separate the bonded paper and plastic layers. (The Guardian notes that under EU health and , coffee cups cannot be made from 100% paper or cardboard alone. A thin layer of plastic is bonded on to the cup to keep the drink warm and stop the paper from getting soggy.)

The proposed remedy by Green Your Cup is to form the cup first and then apply the coffee proof liner to the inside afterwards. The cups would consist of cardboard without any chemicals in it. The paper, folded into a cup shape, would be glued together and then a thin plastic liner would be welded into a cup shape. Noteworthy is that the liner, lightly glued, could separate in one piece when at the recycling mills. As the lining of Green Your Cup would come out easily, what remains would be just cardboard. The cups could be accepted by regular paper mills including and newspaper recycling plants.

Myerscough is quoted in The Guardian: "In these times of limited resources and diminishing landfill space, a single-use cup that can't be recycled is an indulgence we just cannot afford. I hope Green Your Cup will make a difference to how people think about the wastefulness of some of our everyday habits." Where does he go from here? The Guardian said that the company is in talks with coffee shop chains and supermarkets in the hope that the product can be rolled out nationally. The Green Your Cup page asks those who like the idea to share the video, tweet followers and get the word out. The site also invites companies interested in using the cups to email the site or fill in an online contact form. "We need partners to join us and then we can put this cup on the market in 2015," said the site.

Explore further: Coffee cup switch saves trees

More information:

Related Stories

Coffee cup switch saves trees

September 3, 2013

Reusable coffee cups are helping students at The University of Western Australia to put less rubbish in the bin - and send less waste to landfill.

Soccer interactions dwarf other events on Facebook

June 21, 2014

Through one week of the World Cup, Facebook has already seen more people having more interactions about the tournament on the social media site than it had for the Sochi Olympics, Super Bowl and Academy Awards combined.

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.