Paper cups can now be spotted anywhere, from coffee shops, restaurants, hotels to offices, schools, and hospitals. This means that the number of used paper cups being discharged into the environment is substantial. This begs the question of whether paper cups are recyclable, or they may become a burden on waste treatment plants. New Star Paper’s article below will help you answer this question.

Are paper cups recyclable?

Made not only of paper, paper cups are also coated with 1 or more layers of Polyethylene to limit water absorption and avoid condensation on the cups. This layer is quite thin, only accounting for about 5% of the cup’s volume, but it has led to misconceptions that paper cups cannot be recycled.

However, this view has started shifting thanks to the advanced recycling technologies. Many recycling facilities worldwide have begun collecting and recycling paper cups.

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Are paper cups recyclable?

Among these facilities are James Cropper, DS Smith, ACE UK and Essity – recycling plants approved by the UK government. These plants have developed a different process to recycle paper cups into various products. In 2019, they recycled 200 million paper cups and this number is expected to double by 2022.

In the US, the city of Madison, WI categorized paper cups, paper boxes and plastic-lined cardboard boxes as recyclable waste. Pellitteri Waste Systems, a company that manages Madison’s recycling operations, has invested approximately $4.5 million in a variety of advanced machinery, including optical scanners and devices that separate paper from plastic liners. Madison’s plant is also one of the only five locations in the US that can recycle paper cups with PE coating.

Paper cup recycling process

Paper cup recycling has similarities to many other materials. After being collected from recycling bins, these paper cups will be cleaned, packaged and sent to a recycling facility. The paper cups are then transferred onto the conveyor belt and put into the pulp mill to separate the paper fibers from the Polyethylene (PE) layer. Paper fiber and the PE layer will be used as raw materials for the production of many other useful products.

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The process of recycling paper cups at James Cropper factory (UK)

What are recycled paper cups for?

After paper is separated from the PE coating, paper fibers are put into paper mills and recycled into new products such as paper bags, tissues or stationery. In particular, these products can be recycled 6 more times. Meanwhile, Polyethylene is often used to produce new plastic products such as tables, chairs, and wardrobes.

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Several products made from recycled paper cups

Mr. Jim Schneider, vice president of Sustana Fiber (US) said, “The paper fiber in the paper cup is made from softwood, long fiber, good quality. It is a shame and wasteful to let these fibers turn into waste simply because they are not recycled properly.” According to Mr. Schneider, the greatest win is not finding value in things that used to be waste, but it is about turning them into raw materials for us to produce into new and more meaningful products.

Things to consider when storing and using paper cups

To keep paper cups clean and safe, you need to pay attention to a few issues:

  • Place paper cups in a cool, dry place. Always keep the cups in the packaging to avoid dust. Paper cups should also be put in a cup holder, if available, to ensure hygiene.
  • Paper cups are designed for single use only. It is advisable to limit the washing and reuse of paper cups as it is not safe.
  • Avoid filling the paper cups with too much liquid, as these cups are not as sturdy as plastic or glass cups. Filling the paper cup with water can also make it difficult to hold the paper cup.

By paying attention to these little details, you can use paper cups comfortably without worrying about whether it can affect your health.

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Things to consider when using paper cups

We hope that the article has provided a detailed answer to the question of “Are paper cups recyclable?” In fact, paper cups are much easier to recycle compared to plastic cups. Therefore, individuals and companies doing business in the F&B industry should opt for premium paper cups with guaranteed quality from organic ingredients, so as to contribute to the joint effort to protect natural resources, minimize the impact of climate change on the environment, and preserve a better living environment.

New Star Paper is a manufacturer of affordable and quality paper cups on the Vietnamese market. All New Star Paper’s paper cups are manufactured in compliance with ISO 22000 standards with export certifications, and the materials are imported directly from Europe to deliver quality products, ensuring safety and environmental friendliness. For consultation and quotation, please contact New Star Paper via our Hotline: 0364 667 155.

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