Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Single use disposable coffee cup upcycling

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Single-use disposable coffee cups finally became recyclable in July 2013, when James Cropper unveiled a purpose-built Reclaimed Fibre Facility, the first commercial processing plant able to separate valuable pulp fibres from the polythene lining of billions of cups thrown away each year. The British manufacturer now returns those fibres to the supply chain in Coffee, a range of papers that demonstrate the highest standards in sustainable, luxury paper production.
In Use – Fully operational

Product Waste Reduction, Recycled content/recyclability, Reuse

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
Liquid Beverage Cartons or other composites

Relevant Packaging Formats

Supply Chain Phase
Collection, Consumer, Packing


James Cropper Papers developed by the waterside of the River Kent in England’s picturesque Lake District, using the vast natural resource of the area to produce some of the world’s finest papers. The same river runs by the mill today and we are reminded each day of our responsibilities to protect the world around us, not only to enjoy the benefits of doing business responsibly, but for the long-term health and prosperity of our employees, neighbours and customers.

As a result, sustainability is an essential part of every decision we make. As little of what we produce in waste materials ends its journey with us if we can find new uses for it. Solids from paper production are used in our local agriculture industry, having been treated in our own Dewatering Plant to remove the moisture that is inherent to the paper making process.

A percentage of the electricity supply to the mill is provided by a hydroelectric facility based on the River Kent, harnessing the power of water and bringing our historic energy supply back into the creation of present day products. Carbon emissions are reduced by embracing the heat from the paper production process and returning it to the mill, extending the lifespan of the energies we draw on. In 2013, James Cropper PLC unveiled the first industrial scale recycling facility for the recycling of paper coffee cups after pioneering a process that separated the plastic waterproofing from the paper.

Investment in new ways of reusing the resources at our disposal is a constant endeavour for the company and we hope the results will continue to be as significant to global industry as saving many of the billions of coffee cups used each year from being unnecessarily thrown away. James Cropper Papers operates within established international frameworks for responsible sourcing and manufacturing. Our credentials include:

  • Certified to FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) and separately to PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) standards. Both certifications require an auditable chain of custody for pulp sourced by the mill.
  • All the pulp purchased is manufactured using either an Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) or a Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) bleaching process.
  • Pulp is sourced from sustainable forest management. Softwood and hardwood pulps are imported from Sweden and Finland, whilst eucalyptus pulp is mainly imported from Portugal. All our suppliers are committed to sustainable forest management.
  • All suppliers have attained the International Standards ISO 9000 and ISO 14001.

Potential Benefits

Disposable cups are made up of between 90 – 95% high strength paper with a 5% thin coating of polyethylene (plastic). After four years of development, James Cropper can now not only recycle the fibre content in cup waste but also recycle the plastic coating, giving a sustainable solution to the global problem of disposable cup waste.

Intellectual Property


Consultant View


Contacts and Further Information

James Cropper Paper
Burneside Mills
01539 722002

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