There has been much discrepancy and confusion in Australia whether paper cups are recyclable, biodegradable or neither. In this statement you will find a detailed description on the:
a) Two most common types of paper cups used in Australia,
b) Issues related to the disposal and post use of paper cups,
c) Environmental solutions we are proud to be a part of
These cups have a thin polyethylene layer of plastic on one side of the paperboard to be able to produce a cup through the manufacturing process. The plastic layer is also to ensure the cup is liquid proof.
In short, traditional paper cups are recyclable, but the complexity in the makeup of the material & the economic viability for recyclers to make money out of recycling paper cups has unfortunately seen paper cups take a back seat in our recycling industry.
Some recyclers have deemed the paper cup unrecyclable due to the plastic layer not easily being separated from the paperboard. The technicality of this divided issue has unfortunately seen all paper cups sent to landfill.
But that was the past...
In 2018, Australian Science & Technology has lead the way in global first, with the development of the world’s first paper cup separation & recycling facility being built right here in Australia. This new facility is giving Australian coffee consumers the opportunity to recycle ALL traditional polyethylene lined cups, making reusable coffee cups a possibility.
The recycling facility is already accepting supply and will be in full operation by mid 2018.
We are currently working with governments & councils to have ALL traditional paper sent to this facility for recycling via any public or private co-mingled recycling bin.
Yes. If the traditional paper cup is recycled without separation it cannot be turned into A grade paper, but it can still be recycled into 2nd grade paper towel & cardboard. These facts come directly from our own Australian recyclers who collect & use our off cuts and waste from our own paper cup manufacturing plant.
These cups are made up of a similar makeup as the traditional cup however uses a replacement material layer made from a compositable compound.
Although a great product, the bio cup needs to be placed into a special industrial compost (not landfill) and takes many years to break down. With the lack of industrial compost facilities in Australia to compost these particular cups and the logistical process for end users to get these cups to these facilities (that do not exist) makes the bio cup an impractical solution to dispose of easily which has lead to the majority being placed into landfill.
Unfortunately, there is no practical solution to reduce these cups ending in landfill and causing ecological damage as Australia’s current composting infrastructure cannot support them.
Our message to all end users is simple…
Please only buy & recycle all traditional paper cups. Lookout for the recycling symbol & place these cups into your standard co-mingled recycling waste to give them the best chance of being responsibly managed. You will see a big shift in the encouragement of recycling paper cups over the coming years once government support & council systems are improved. We want to take our hats off to Brisbane & the ACT councils for already having implemented full acceptance of traditional paper cups through their recycling facilities.
This is an exciting time for consumers, manufacturers, recyclers & activists, but the biggest winner here is the environment. Never before has there been a total circular solution in Australia for the post use of paper cups, and the opportunities being presented to us is one our planet & eco system will forever appreciate.
Please only buy traditional polyethylene lined cups, lookout for the recycling symbol & RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE!