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Finally…. a take-out coffee cup that can be easily recycled

The war on plastic waste will be massively boosted in coffee-crazed Britain with the impending launch of the world’s first easy-to-recycle coffee cup, the Frugal Cup, the brainchild of Frugalpac.

UK coffee lovers plough through an astonishing 2.5 billion plastic-coated paper cups a year – virtually all of which end up in landfill sites because they’re so hard to recycle.

Only one in 400 of the seven million throwaway paper cups Britain gets through a day are being recycled because they are so tightly coated in plastic that only two of the country’s 47 paper mills is able to recycle them.

“This cup is unique and can make a real difference to the coffee cup problem,” says Martin Myerscough, who invented the cup and has patented the design.

He explains how his coffee cup differs from conventional ones: “Existing single-use coffee cups are made by taking a sheet of cardboard and melting molten plastic onto it.

“This means the plastic is extremely tightly bonded to the paper. The plastic-coated paper is then rolled into cups. The problem with that is that when it goes to the paper mill, the plastic and the paper don’t break down.

“It’s very difficult to separate the two in normal recycling facilities – only two of Britain’s 47 paper mills have the technology to do it.

“With our cup, we make the cup first out of recycled paper. Then we make a very thin waterproof plastic liner which we put into the cup, as a separate unit.

“The process uses the same amount of plastic as an existing cup and, when we’ve finished manipulating it, it it looks like an existing cup.

“But when our cups go to the paper mill the plastic and paper can be easily separated. First, the outside of the cup is attacked by water, which breaks it down. The liner then floats free and gets caught in the filters as the paper pulp goes through.

“This is the same process used to separate a plastic magazine wrapper that’s slipped into a load of newspapers.

“The other advantage of our cups is that they’re made from recycled paper – whereas conventional disposable cups are produced with new, virgin, paper.”

Frugalpac, the Suffolk-based company Myerscought set up to make the cup, is in advanced discussions with a number of coffee retailers, including Starbucks, with a view to trialing it in its stores, as well as in independent coffee outlets.

It recently finished setting setting up its factory in County Clare, Ireland, and is about to begin full-scale production of the cup

British MPs and campaigners are hopeful that the coffee cup recycling rate could be about to soar if the new recyclable model takes off.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett, said: “Fully recyclable coffee cups should be the norm. So, it’s good to see products being developed which will help to achieve that.”

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