Along with a timely hit of caffeine, takeaway coffee can deliver its fair share of environmental angst as the office trash can begins to brim with empty paper cups. But what if, instead of being carted off to landfill, these cups could be recycled up to seven times, much like newspapers and regular cardboard? According to UK-based inventor Martin Myerscough, a small difference in the way these cups are produced could significantly reduce the monumental waste generated by today's coffee-crazed society.
According to Myerscough, Green Your Cup looks and feels just like your regular coffee cup, but with some important differences in its manufacturing. As it stands, most of the estimated 2.5 billion paper coffee cups used in the UK each year are turfed straight into landfill.
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A film of plastic tightly bonded to the inside and chemical treatment of the paper help keep your beverage warm and prevent leaking, but also make recycling problematic. Specialist recycling facilities are required to separate the plastic from the paper, involving large amounts of energy and chemicals which makes the process costly and impractical.
Green Your Cups are made using plain, chemical-free cardboard and, while a plastic film still lines the inside, it is held in place with a much lighter application of glue. This is said to be more easily separated and can be processed by normal paper recycling centers, with the plastic film caught by the same filters that catch regular plastic wrappers and labels. And as Green Your Cups don't contain any chemicals, they can be broken down in 6 minutes during a regular newspaper recycling process, while the specialist recycling process can take up to 2 hours.
The company claims that minus the plastic lid, its coffee cups can be discarded into regular waste paper and cardboard recycling streams. It is currently conducting a trial to drum up interest from UK coffee chains and consumers and hopes to begin full-scale commercial production in 2015.
Source: Green Your Cup