This morning at London’s Somerset House saw the launch of Green Your Cup – the world’s first recyclable paper coffee cup. More than 1,000 cups of coffee were handed out to tourists and commuters to try the greener cup for the very first time.
More than 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed of in the UK every year. Put them end-to-end and they would go around the world five-and-a-half times, would weigh as much as a battleship and are made from one million trees. But almost none of these cups get recycled and nearly all end up in landfill – that’s 25,000 tonnes of waste a year – enough to fill London’s Royal Albert Hall.
That’s why British entrepreneur and engineer Martin Myerscough (pictured), Chief Executive of 3Boys Limited, has developed ‘the holy grail’ for the coffee and beverages industry – the world’s first paper cup that really WILL get
Conventional paper coffee cups are made of 95% cardboard from 80 year-old trees and 5% polyethylene. Under EU regulations coffee cups can’t be made from recycled paper. A thin layer of plastic is bonded on to the cup to keep the drink warm and stop the paper from getting soggy.
The plastic is bonded on so tightly to the cardboard that those cups need special facilities to separate the linings, with almost all recycling plants rejecting the cups and sending them straight to landfill.
The UK is due to run out of space for its rubbish by 2018, according to the Local Government Association, unless new landfill sites can be found – but a new EU landfill tax is likely to make that economically unviable.
Green Your Cup can be recycled into newspapers up to seven times – the polyethylene lining easily separates from the cup during the recycling process.
This means the cups can be disposed of in paper recycling bins. This will help a confused public – a Which? report found 8 in 10 people thought they could do that already!
Martin said: “I always thought it was such a waste that disposable coffee cups couldn’t be easily recycled. 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. You can recycle Green Your Cup with your paper and cardboard and it comes back as a newspaper several times, extending the life of such high quality paper well beyond the half an hour it takes to drink a coffee.
“People will be shocked to find out that the paper cups they use rarely get recycled and they ought to be – it is a scandal! We hope that Green Your Cup will become standard in the booming coffee industry so that we can put an end to this shocking environmental shame.”
Rainforest Alliance’s Stuart Singleton-White, Senior Manager External Communications for Europe & Australia, said:
“We welcome the launch of Green Your Cup as a major innovation in the beverage industry and we look forward to seeing it become the standard cup that coffee shops and cafés use for those take away drinks we all love.
“The Rainforest Alliance works in sustainable agriculture, where you see our green frog seal up and down the high street. There is a fair chance that the coffee or tea you buy today will have come from Rainforest Alliance Certified™
sources. But we also work in sustainable forestry and are the world’s biggest non-profit certifier of forests and forest products, including paper, to the FSC standard.
“So providing businesses and the consumer with sustainable options is fundamental to delivering the change we need to see.
“Green Your Cup is a great step in this direction. It takes a single use waste product that too often ends up in landfill and turns it into a resource that can be recycled and used again. This goes to the heart of sustainable business practice and gives us all the chance to make better choices when we buy our favourite drink.”