Success story 

Replacing Polyethylene to Make Paper Cups More Recyclable

We use around 500 billion disposable coffee cups worldwide each year. Less than 1% of those get recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills or, worse still, in the ocean.

While the public may think that most paper cups get recycled, that’s not the case. A plastic polyethylene coating is added to paper cups to act as a moisture barrier and joint sealant. Without this layer, cups would fail to hold liquids for more than a few minutes.
 However, it makes it overly complicated, costly and challenging to it overly complicated, costly and challenging to effectively process paper cups for recycling. Furthermore, this unrecycled plastic can take decades to break down harming the natural environment. 
Challenge accepted
It started with a discussion with a manufacturer (an advanced process developer in the paper industry), then it quickly turned into a brainstorming session. Next came the workshops brainstorming session. Next came the workshops where samples were produced and iterated. The process was complex, but the challenge was always evident. 

We asked ourselves how we could increase the recyclability of disposable coffee cups. With our partner, an advanced technology developer for moulded pulp and paper forming, we began to moulded pulp and paper forming, we began to rethink how the paper cup is made.

One tree produces between 2,500 and 3,000 paper cups. More than 20 million trees are cut down each year solely for the manufacture of single-use paper cups.

A cup full of innovation
Our in-depth product knowledge and our out-of-box thinking when exploring possible new applications for existing materials led us to a natural, organic polymer commonly used in natural, organic polymer commonly used in detergent tablets. By laminating this polymer in conjunction with our partner’s unique conjunction with our par manufacturing process, we are developing a formed paper cup with no joints.
 
This new and patented process makes the paper hydrophobic so that it can hold liquids. At the same time, the final product is entirely natural and fully-recyclable as the natural polymer and fully-recyclable as the natural polymer dissolves during the process.
This was a gratifying project for the whole team. Our partner was thrilled by our in-depth market Our par and technical knowledge, insights and our shared commitment to developing a greener solution. 
As the paper cups become available for major coffee and food brands worldwide, we’re excited to see how our technology can help reduce the billions of disposable cups that go unrecycled each year.

IMCD supports the promotion of sustainable alternatives wherever possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together to open new frontiers.