It seems quite an underwhelming claim at first glance, although a new innovation put forward by Just Peel is the answer to a question that has been troubling the market for a long time. How recyclable is a paper cup? Well, usually the answer to that is ‘not very’. Just Peel have worked with Wrexham based manufacturer Cup Folk, waste recyclers as well as A Plastic Planet to bring a cup which, for the first time, is accredited as plastic free and is 100% recyclable in mainstream channels.

The main difficulty with recycling paper cups is the plastic liner which keeps the cup water-tight. Most recycling plants are not equipped to separate the paper from the plastic and therefore the cups do not flow through the recycling stream. Instead they could end up in land fill. Other cups in the market try to mitigate this by using a biodegradable plastic liner which means if a cup does end up in land fill, it will biodegrade. Upon closer inspection this is not a perfect solution either, as it can also release harmful gasses in the process as well as the fact that material is being taken out of the recycling stream.

The new cup that Just Peel showcased at the Caffe Culture show in London can be recycled along with other paper based material without the need to separate the liner from cup. The cup uses a special water based coating which does not interfere with the pulping process.

It also means that if a cup is not placed in a recycling bin, it will still biodegrade without any harmful side effects. Though at first doubtful, leading waste processors were keen to test the claim and were surprised when they found that the cup performed as claimed, beyond all expectations. Because of it’s performance this is the first cup under EU law to be deemed non single use.

Encouraged, Just Peel approached an organisation dedicated to reducing plastic use in order to secure use of the Plastic Free Trust Mark. A Plastic Planet claim their goal is to ‘turn off the plastic tap’ and work with companies to inspire change. One of the ways they do this through the widely recognised Plastic Free Trust Mark. This is the first time a paper cup has ever been accredited as plastic free.

Managing Director of Just Peel, Alison Hobson, aims to encourage decision makers to adopt this new Plastic Free cup “Most consumers are not aware that the paper cup that they dutifully place in the recycling bin does not actually get recycled, it’s down to the outlets to provide them with a cup which can be recycled and is plastic free, and now we’re giving them that option.”