Stora Enso plans to recycle used paper cups into valuable products such as magazine paper ‘on a large scale’ at its Langerbrugge Mill in Belgium.
In recent trials, Stora Enso re-pulped half-a-million baled post-consumer paper cups collected from fast food restaurants and coffee houses in the area. The results show that paper cups can be recycled at the mill without any additional process equipment and that the fibres are well suited for magazine quality paper.
Langerbrugge Mill is one the largest paper mills in Europe, producing 540 000 tonnes of recycled newsprint and magazine papers annually. Production is exclusively based on paper for recycling. ‘The mill is conveniently located in continental Europe with about 80 million people living within 300 kilometres of the mill, thus providing a large enough source for recycled raw materials,’ Stora Enso says.
‘Langerbrugge Mill has the technical readiness to accept billions of used cups for recycling within our sourcing area,’ adds Annica Bresky, executive vice president of the Stora Enso consumer board division. ‘The challenge is mostly about getting these cups to us on the industrial scale our production would require.’
The company is now exploring the technical feasibility of transforming the cups into other paper products. As a first step, it is actively looking into partnerships for the collection and sorting of used paper cups to ensure this high-quality fibre material is captured and given a second life.