This New Recycled Coffee Cup Wants To Be The Solution To The Global Waste Problem

UK-based Frugalpac has a solution for a global bad habit: tossing out coffee cups. It’s estimated that Starbucks uses 7 billion cups every year. And that’s just one brand. Aware of this issue, last year the global brand partnered with McDonald’s to fund an innovation challenge and see if creative thinkers from around the world could come up with an answer.

“It’s a problem that everybody in the industry is aware of and trying to find a solution,” says Malcolm Waugh, CEO of the Frugalpac.

His company, Frugalpac, may just have an answer. Based in Wrexham, Wales, this year Frugalpac started mass producing an entirely recyclable coffee cup in their 18,000 square foot facility.

Waugh explains that recycling is a complex problem: historically, the problem with coffee cups on the market has been that they are made of two materials — virgin paper for the outer layer and a thin layer of plastic for the inner layer. That thin film of plastic is necessary to keep hot liquids from leaking. While it works brilliantly for the modern fast-paced coffee culture, it produces a lot of waste because these cups cannot be recycled.

The two materials would have to be separated, and that process, till now, Waugh says, has not been perfected. Some brands are using PLA, or corn and starch-based products, which claim to be compostable. But Waugh is not sold: “Most of this stuff is not being composted and actually going to landfills.”

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