Simply Cups, which has been recycling coffee cups since May 2017, is expanding to accept all types of paper cups, following a successful pilot program with 7-Eleven Slurpee, smoothie and frappé cups. This will go on to include take-away soft drink cups, ice-cream cups, chip cups and more.
The company says that while paper cups cannot be recycled kerbside, they can be dropped off at any of the 790+ publicly accessible collection points, including 690 7-Eleven stores nationally.
With the expansion, any kind of paper-based cup with a diameter less than 95mm can now be accepted, including compostable cups.
Cups collected through Simply Cups are recycled into raw materials that are then used as a beneficial additive for asphalt production, lightweight concrete and sustainable building materials.
Closed Loop Environmental Solutions, which runs Simply Cups, is excited by the circular economy solutions Simply Cups is delivering, according to managing director, Rob Pascoe.
“Over the past six years we have explored 18 different potential applications for recycled cups. Some of these turned out to be pie in the sky, others don’t currently work economically, but a handful have ticked the right boxes. This has involved an intensive and sustained collaborative effort with industry, academia and government.”
Brendan Lee, circular economy manager of Closed Loop, told PKN that of these applications, “by far and away, the best solution” has been in asphalt “because the fibres from the cups are a beneficial additive as they have a meshing effect that makes stronger roads”.
PAK-PAVE asphalt was developed through a joint venture between Closed Loop and State Asphalts NSW in collaboration with the federal government and UNSW.
Lee also highlighted a lightweight concrete solution, called EnviroLite, produced in partnership with Gully Concrete. “A standard concrete mini-slab weights 26kg, whereas the EnviroLite Concrete slabs weight 13kg,” he said.
Another success, according to Lee, is saveBOARD, which he said Closed Loop is planning to get more involved in “once they get up to full speed”.
“This collaboration has now matured into solid partnerships and we now have the capacity to use more material than we are currently collecting from coffee cups,” Pascoe added.
Simply Cups says it has been assessed and recognised as an Alternative Destination under the Australasian Recycling Label program (ARL). Businesses that sell paper cups may apply to carry the Drop Off Only ARL on their cups to encourage greater recycling of paper cups.
“We welcome brands, manufacturers and businesses to apply the Drop Off Only ARL on eligible products to demonstrate their commitment to product stewardship” said APCO CEO, Chris Foley.
“True to the circular economy, we want to see a reduction in the number of disposable cups used in the first place. However, we are also aware that this is not always practical, so we think it is important to have a landfill diversion solution in place while alternative systems develop. We want to ensure the resources used in these paper cups don’t go to waste, by redirecting them into products with a high value and a long life,” concluded Pascoe.