Used in cafes and coffee shops all over the world, paper coffee cups are a global waste problem. A recent study in the UK found that 2.5 billion end up in landfills in that nation alone, but a new technology that's being developed by James Cropper plc hopes to change that.
The largest problem with paper drinking cups is that they're not made entirely of paper. About 5 percent of these cups consists of polythene used to make the cups waterproof. This material cannot be recycled through the same processes as paper waste. As a result, the paper drinking cups cannot successfully be broken down and reused through traditional recycling methods.
James Cropper plc's new method of recycling involves separating the polythene from the paper. First, cups are soaked to remove the coating. The polythene is removed from the solution and then recycled independently. Then, the cups can be recycled through the same means used to recycle other paper products. The company has successfully used the paper fibers obtained from the process to produce high-end stationery and other paper products.
Now that successful testing of the new recycling method is complete, James Cropper plc is opening a factory for processing UK paper cups. There are hopes of expanding the operations abroad in the future.
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