Coffey gives seal of approval to Frugalpac paper coffee cup

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:
Environment minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP with Frugalpac founder Martin Myerscough

Environment minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP met with the team behind Frugalpac this week - a packaging company who has created a new paper coffee cup that, according to the company, could solve the problem that only one in 400 disposable coffee cups are currently recycled with most ending up in landfill.

To mark Recycle Week (12-18 September), the minister – whose brief includes recycling – visited and formally opened Frugalpac’s offices in Brightwell, Suffolk and enjoyed a brew in the new cup from local coffee producers, Paddy & Scott’s.

The Frugalpac cup is made from recycled paper and recyclable in normal paper mills. And a test by the independent inspection, product testing and certification company Intertek is reported to have found the carbon footprint of a Frugalpac cup is about half that of many of today’s normal paper cups.

Starbucks have now decided to trial and test the Frugalpac cup, which featured in Hugh’s War on Waste programme on BBC1, with a view to potentially rolling it out across their 24,000 stores.

More than 2.5 billion coffee cups are currently disposed of in the UK every year. Existing cups are made using virgin paper from mature trees. A thin layer of plastic film is bonded to the paper while it is flat. The film provides the waterproof layer to the cup, without which the cup would leak and go soft. Waterproof chemical agents are also added to the paper.

This flat sheet is then printed and formed into the cup. The plastic film inside the cup is not only bonded tightly to the paper but is also trapped in the seam, adding to the difficulty of recycling.

Existing cups require specialist recycling facilities because the plastic film does not separate from the paper in a normal recycling centre. The specialist process uses a lot more energy and chemicals than normal paper recycling. In most countries, once the cups have left the store, there is no mechanism for transporting them to specialist mills.

According to Frugalpac at present there are only two places in the whole of the UK that can recycle conventional paper cups. That means only one in 400 paper cups actually gets recycled.

Frugalpac said its cups are made by making the paper into a cup first without adding chemicals to the recycled paper, and then applying a thin plastic liner to the inside. The plastic liner is lightly bonded onto the paper cup. The top of the liner is then rolled over the lip of the cup which looks, feels and performs just like the conventional cup.

Because the liner is so lightly glued in place, when the cup goes to the standard paper mills Frugalpac said it separates from the paper in the recycling process.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey MP stated: “It is vital for our environment and economy that we make the most of our resources. That is why it is great to see an example of innovation that could help the environment and become a great British export.

“We must all do our bit to reduce waste – so interest from major retailers is good news for the Suffolk economy and could potentially boost recycling rates across the nation.”

“Suffolk aims to be the greenest county in England and Frugalpac’s ambition adds weight to that”

Martin Myerscough, Frugalpac’s founder, said: “Since our launch in July, we have been inundated with requests from coffee retailers around the world who want to use the cup.

“We’ve also started talks with Starbucks to arrange the trial and testing of the Frugalpac cup. Hopefully Frugalpac will become the standard in the industry so people can get on with enjoying their coffee without worrying about what damage the cup does to the environment afterwards!”

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