The Green Cross US affiliate- Global Green– has launched a pilot recycling project at Starbucks as part of its Coalition for Resource Recovery Programme (CoRR). Starting 10 September, seven Starbucks stores in Manhattan, New York began collecting and recycling coffee cups.
The objective is to develop a cost effective mechanism to close the loop on paper packaging, thereby reducing greenhouse gases and assisting municipalities in reaching their solid waste diversion goals.
According to Annie White, director of Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, “The lessons learned from the cup recycling pilot can be applied to the recycling of hamburger, pizza, and French fry containers, and all sorts of other paper food packaging. If the initial pilot is successful, CoRR will expand the pilot to encompass more packaging types and restaurants, furthering our objective of generating business value and closing the loop on packaging.”
Every year, 58 billion paper cups are used in the US at restaurants, events, and homes. If all paper cups in the U.S. were recycled, 645,000 tons of waste would be diverted from landfills each year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 million mtCO2e, equivalent to removing 450,000 passenger cars from the road.
Starbucks participation in the pilot is an extension of the company’s efforts to develop a comprehensive recyclable cup solution by 2012. While Starbucks paper coffee cups can be recycled and composted in some communities, most commercial and residential services are not currently able to process this form of packaging. “In addition to the cup design, it’s critical that we address the full product life cycle including the recycling collection infrastructure,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of Environmental Impact. “Any enduring solution will require collaboration with stakeholders across the value chain.”
For the pilot, Western Michigan University’s Coating and Recycling Pilot Plants tested a representative sample of the cups used in Starbucks stores and certified them as OCC-E, offering equivalent recyclability and repulpability as old corrugated cardboard using the Fibre Box Association’s Wax Alternative Protocol. Duro Bag, the largest paper bag manufacturer in the world, is designing a special paper bin liner so cups can be collected and recycled along with the corrugated cardboard. The prototype bag will be tested as part of the trial. Action Carting, the largest commercial carter in New York City, is collecting the bags along with the corrugated cardboard.