DS Smith announces coffee cup recycling trials

DS Smith has announced its involvement in a trial to research the highly-topical issue of coffee cup recycling. The project, which will commence in January 2018, will be run on behalf of the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG). Undertaken at DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper Mill in Sittingbourne, the feasibility of recycling used coffee cups will be analysed, using cups from existing waste collection infrastructures consistent with EN643 (The European List of Standard Grades of Paper and Board for Recycling), to make non-food contact papers. The project will provide insight on an industrial scale, which will be used to inform cup design, collection and reprocessing methods in the future.

DS Smith has nine paper mills across Europe, producing around 2.8 million tonnes of corrugated case materials and specialist industrial products every year. Of those mills, Kemsley has an annual production capacity of more than 800,000 tonnes and is the second largest recovered fibre-based paper operation in Europe. Making paper for packaging from recycled fibres, finished paper products from Kemsley are used in the group’s packaging production plants, as part of the DS Smith closed loop recycling offering.

To date, used coffee cups have presented significant challenges to mainstream paper mills producing papers for the packaging industry. This is in part due to the plastic lining found in coffee cups, which present a problem in the high volume continuous pulping process. Other challenges exist around food waste contamination and dealing with the coffee remnants.

However DS Smith, as a member of the PCRRG, is committed to providing more insight into the issues, as part of an industry drive to finding a sustainable recycling solution for coffee cups, especially as coffee ‘on the go’ has become an everyday feature of our consumer culture on a mass scale. 

Mathew Prosser, Managing Director at DS Smith Recycling (UK), said, “DS Smith has already been actively involved with PCRRG members, such as Costa, on lab and pilot plant-scale recycling tests. I am pleased this work has developed to be able to undertake research on an industrial scale that will provide the whole supply cycle with data on the recyclability of paper cups in mainstream packaging mills. “We look forward to sharing the results of the trial with the PCRRG, and the wider industry, on its completion.” 

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