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Recycling PE Lined Paper Cups in the UK

February 07,2023

Paper Cups with PE Linings for Recycling

An eco friendly paper cups are frequently lined with a plastic coating to prevent leakage, control temperature, and increase durability. This can make recycling difficult because they must be stripped of their coating before recycling.

In the United Kingdom, a group of leading coffee shops and waste collectors have formed an industry initiative to recycle them. It works by collecting paper cups and transporting them to coffee cup recycling facilities.

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Paper cups are a common packaging item found in cafes, restaurants, and kiosks. They're mostly made of paper and have a plastic liner inside to keep leaks at bay. This plastic lining, on the other hand, is a major contaminant in the paper waste stream and is difficult to recycle.

Manufacturers can change the coating to a water-based or pigment-based coating, or even use bioplastics instead of PE, to make the paper cup more recyclable. Alternatively, they can modify the paper fibers to increase their functionality, eliminating the need for the lining.

Another approach would be to make the paper cup compostable. This can be accomplished by coating the paper cup with a layer of polylactic acid (pla coated) or by combining a PLA-based blend with a traditional paper cup coating. These materials are made from renewable plant-based resources and can be composted in a commercial composting facility.

While this appears to be the best solution, it has several drawbacks. For one thing, it is more expensive than traditional paper cups and can only be composted in industrial-scale facilities. It can also harm the environment because it emits thermoplastic microparticles during composting.

First Mile and Veolia are two companies that specialize in recycling paper cups. These businesses can collect the cups and transport them to a facility that separates the plastic lining from the paper.

Some companies are introducing new cups with a recycled lining rather than a single-use plastic. This allows the company to be more environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of plastic it produces.

Furthermore, some businesses are redesigning their disposable cups to make them easier to recycle. Frugalpak, for example, is currently releasing coffee cups with an easy-to-separate liner made of recycled cardboard.

There are several recycling facilities in the UK that specialize in paper cup recycling. These facilities can process all of the disposable cups used in the UK each year, making them an excellent resource for cup collection infrastructure.

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Whether you want a plastic-free cup or not, the good news is that there are many options available. Some of these options are made from renewable resources and can be composted, while others are recyclable and can be thrown in the trash.

While paper cups are a popular option for takeaway coffee, they have limitations. First and foremost, they are poor insulators. When you fill them with liquid, they naturally become soggy and can leak.

Manufacturers realized decades ago that applying a layer of plastic coating to the inside ofcompostable paper cupswould solve both of these issues. Not only would this keep your coffee hot, but it would also make them waterproof and easy to dispose of when no longer needed.

However, this has created a problem for the industry, resulting in billions of PE lined cups being discarded each year. As a result, a number of businesses and organizations are attempting to find the best solution for recycling and disposing of these cups.

The best way to recycle PE lined paper cups is to empty them into a separate bin and not mix them with other waste streams. If you're unsure, contact your local waste management company, who can advise you on the best way to collect these.

There are several companies in the United Kingdom that specialize in recycling PE lined paper cups. These companies will pick up the cups from your establishment and transport them to one of the facilities where they can be sorted and recycled.

Some of these businesses even recycle the cups by reprinting them on new paper products. This is a very effective solution for businesses looking to recycle their paper cups and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Companies that want to recycle their PE lined paper cups can also join a scheme like Simply Cups, which was created to recycle used coffee cups. The scheme is supported by a membership fee and provides a reliable hot cup collection and recycling service. This enables the coffee cups to be collected and recycled directly to a specialized facility, bypassing the MRF process.


Coffee cup manufacturers are attempting to increase the recyclability and biodegradability of their products. These efforts include the use of alternative barrier coatings, the manufacture of cups with biodegradable paperboard and linings, and the incorporation of compostability into the mix.

Using a polylactic acid (PLA)-based lining instead of traditional PE liners is one option for paper cup manufacturers to consider. This material is made from renewable resources and does not require virgin oil to be manufactured, reducing landfill. It is also less expensive to produce than PE, making it a viable option.

Some foodservice packaging, such as hot cups, already have PLA linings. This lining has a number of advantages, including a strong bond with paper and heat resistance. They can be manufactured on the same equipment as non-biodegradable plastic linings, making them more cost-effective and efficient.

Furthermore, depending on the recycling facility, they can be recycled or composted. Because plastic waste degrades and dissolves back into the soil, composting can be an effective way to reduce it. However, this process necessitates the use of specialized composting facilities, and some of these facilities are not equipped to handle PLA plastics.

Another way to reduce plastic waste is to replace the lining with re-pulpable material. This means that the lining will be re-pulped and reused instead of being disposed of in a landfill or industrial composting facility. However, it is important to note that re-pulpable liners are not suitable for all applications because they can cause blockages in cup machines and reduce productivity.

REPA liners are being developed by some manufacturers and are coated with calcium carbonate mineral and polyolefin resins such as PE (r). This technology can be used in hot cups without clogging extruders, but its re-pulpability yield is lower than that of a PE liner.

While these alternatives to PE coatings have numerous advantages, they have a long way to go before they are widely available and economically viable. For example, they must be able to justify their use over time while also overcoming the challenges of recyclability and compostability.

Waste Management

The pla paper cups, whether used for hot or cold drinks, have a polymer (plastic) or wax lining inside to prevent liquid from leaking through the paper layers while also allowing the cup to retain its rigid form. Polyethylene (PE) plastic, polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic, and paraffin wax are all common liners.

The primary distinction between the two linings is that PE is derived from petroleum, whereas PLA is derived from plant-based materials such as corn starch or sugar cane. However, the two materials are not mutually exclusive; they can both be recycled.

Furthermore, many brands of cupstock paperboard in the United States now contain more than 30% recycled fiber from post-consumer waste. By diverting paperboard from the solid waste stream, cups can be made from sustainable, recycled paperboard, reducing landfill and incineration volumes.

Furthermore, new policies and legislation are accelerating the transition to more sustainable, circular-economy-friendly solutions. This includes lowering demand and consumption, improving packaging design and labeling, and requiring producers to take responsibility for waste management and cleanup when producing non-recyclable products like paper coffee cups.

Papermakers and converters have developed a range of sustainable cupstock options that replace the fossil-based PE barrier layer with biodegradable or compostable liners in response to consumer sentiment and brand owners' desire to deliver more environmentally friendly products. When processed in recycled fiber papermills, these new alternatives are recyclable and compostable in industrial facilities.

Several papermakers in the United Kingdom and around the world have developed cupstocks that use extruded or water-based dispersions of bio-based plastics like polylactic acid (PLA) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). On existing coaters, these alternative coatings can be applied to cupstock paperboard.

These new cupstocks also provide better insulation and heat retention, making them a more desirable product for both cold and hot beverages. They are more adaptable and cost-effective than traditional paper cups, making them a viable alternative.

Papermakers and converters around the world are collaborating with raw material suppliers, manufacturers, and brand owners to provide alternative paper coffee cup offerings that do not use PE and instead use bio-based plastics such as PLA or PET. These new products are suitable for both hot and cold beverages, are easily biodegradable in industrial settings, and can be obtained from renewable sources.