23 May 2018 by Joshua Doherty

Bunzl adds ‘recyclable plastic coffee cup’

The catering supplies arm of global distribution and outsourcing company Bunzl has added a ‘fully recyclable’ coffee cup to its portfolio.

reCup

The ‘reCUP’ uses 48% less plastic than a standard PE lined coffee cup, the company behind it said

Bunzl Catering Supplies say the ‘reCUP’ uses 48% less plastic than a standard PE lined coffee cup and is fully recyclable when disposed of in a dedicated paper cup waste stream.

Manufactured in Ireland, the reCUP is available from Bunzl Catering Supplies as an off-the-shelf option, with the words ‘great taste less waste’ presented on one side and ‘coffee is always a good idea’ presented on the other.

Recycling process

While the cup does still have a plastic inner-coating, the producers say the cups can be recycled with paper.

This, according to reCUP, is because during the start of the paper mill process, bales of recycled paper are put into a “pulper” which is filled with hot liquids and uses high-speed blades to churn the materials into paper pulp.

During this process, the fibres separate from the plastic coating along with any food and dirt particles. The fibres float to the top of the pulper, leaving the food and dirt particles to sink to the bottom where they are captured as waste.

The company says that traditional plastic coatings float to the top of the pulper along with the fibres. These light, plastic flakes clog the recycling screens and prove too difficult for recyclers to process through their equipment.

However, reCUP say its inner lining sinks to the bottom where it may be captured. Any particles that get trapped in the fibres as they float to the top of the pulper are small enough to pass through the recycling screens without any problems, the company said.

These small, dense particles enter into the secondary and fine cleaners where they are captured, leaving only the fibers to enter into the paper making phase of the process.

You can see a video below from the producers of the cup on how the process works.

Tony Sullivan

Tony Sullivan, purchasing director for Bunzl Catering Supplies, said he is glad the company can help with the recycling of coffee cups.

“We’re giving our customers the option to use a fully recyclable paper cup with significantly less plastic content.  When segregated from mixed recyclables to avoid the issue of contamination, and sent as a dedicated paper cup waste stream, the customer has the assurance that the reCUP is being recycled rather than going to landfill,” he explained.

Bunzl Catering Supplies’ customers include hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and leisure venues across the UK.

Coffee cups

The waterproof inner-plastic lining of coffee cups makes them difficult to recycle, with some suggesting that less than 1 in 400 in the UK actually are.

This has led to calls for a tax on the cups, although at the moment it appears Defra has opted to trust the industry to introduce voluntary measures, such as a discount for customers bringing re-usable cups.

Terry Fox, CEO of Cup Print, believes that having reCUP available through Bunzl Catering Supplies in the UK will make a real difference.

“Having distribution through Bunzl Catering Supplies means we can supply the reCUP in scale and fast to UK customers,” he explained.

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