Factories recommit to buying recycled paper cups

A number of large consumers of recycled fibers have said they are ready to accept the plastic-lined paper cups in mixed paper or cardboard bales. | BublikHaus / Shutterstock

Pratt, Georgia-Pacific, Graphic Packaging International, and other paper mill owners have signed a statement saying they want plasticized paper cups in their raw material.

Manufacturers of fiber packaging and other paper-based products have signed a declaration that they accept paper cups in mixed paper bales or in cardboard bales. The companies signing the declaration were Essity, GP PRO, Graphic Packaging International, Great Lakes Tissue Company, ND Paper, Pratt Industries, Sustana Fiber and WestRock.

According to a Press release from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), signatory companies consume approximately 75% of mixed paper bales in the United States and Canada.

Paper cups contain plastic coatings (usually polyethylene or polylactic acid) to provide liquid barriers, but not all factories are equipped to effectively separate plastic and recover pulp from fibers. “However, the facilities that signed this declaration highlight not only their ability, but their commitment to accept paper cups,” Natha Dempsey, president of FPI, said in the statement. “We encourage communities and MRFs to connect directly with their end markets and local factories to verify whether they will accept bales containing paper cups.”

According to a FPI card, factories accepting poly coated cups in residential mixed paper bales (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Grade 54) are:

  • Essity mills in Baron, Alabama; Menasha, Wisconsin; Middletown, Ohio; and South Glens Falls, NY
  • Georgia-Pacific in Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Muskogee, Oklahoma.
  • International Graphic Packaging in Battle Creek, Michigan; East Angus, Quebec; Middletown, Ohio; Kalamazoo, Michigan;
  • Green Bay packaging in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
  • ND paper (sourcing via America Chung Nam) at Fairmont, WV
  • Pratt in Conyers, Georgia; Shreveport, Louisiana; Staten Island, New York; Valparaiso, Indiana; and Wapakoneta, Ohio.
  • WestRock in Aurora, Illinois; Battle Creek, Michigan; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas; Eaton, Indiana; Missisquoi, Vermont; St. Paul, Minn .; and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

“Empty paper cups are recyclable and provide high quality fiber, which can then be recycled into new products like cereal cartons, tissue boxes and new paper cups,” said Michael Doss, president and chief executive officer of Graphic Packaging International, said in the Release. “Graphic Packaging strongly supports the recycling of paper cups and is encouraged by the proactive participation of the industry to collect them and increase the circularity of paper cups.

In addition, a number of manufacturers also accept ISRI Grade 52 cardboard bales containing paper cups:

  • Continuity in Des Moines, Iowa and Philadelphia.
  • Great Lakes fabric in Cheboygan, Michigan.
  • Sustana in Lévis, Quebec and DePere, Wis.

“Our investments in specialized equipment allow us to efficiently recover fibers from single-use coffee cups for reuse in high-end applications, and we are delighted to support this recycling initiative,” said Fabian de Armas, CEO de Sustana, in the press release. “Increasing the viability and acceptance of paper cup recycling is an important step towards building a circular economy in our markets. “

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