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6/28/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

New Resin Made From Disposable Paper Coffee Cups

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Consultancy and recycling manufacturer may have the answer to turning disposable coffee cups into durable resin.


Consulting firm Nextek and recycling manufacturer AShortWalk of the U.K., have partnered in the development of a new resin, NextCupCycle, made from disposable paper coffee cups.


It turns out that less than 25% of an estimated 3 billion paper cups used annually in the U.K are currently recycled. Part of the problem is the hot beverage cups themselves, which are made from paper fiber tightly bonded with a PE coating layer. This construction makes them troublesome to recycle, as it would require the painstaking separation of each layer.


Dr. Edward Kosior, Nextek’s managing director and professor at Brunel University London’s Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing, saw the solution not in the separation of tightly combined materials, which often results in neither component coming out pure, but rather capitalizing in the strength of the materials in their combined form. A four-year research project at Imperial College London, led to the creation of a new resin that is up to 40% stronger than conventional plastics in weight-handling capabilities and which can be molded into products at high speeds.


The partners have aimed for a 50:50 ratio of paper fibers to plastic coating (PE) to improve the adhesion between the two materials, and have added by-products such as plastic lids and straws to the help achieve the mix. Plans for the future include the development of a recycling plant for exclusive production of NextCupCycle resin that can be used to create a range of durable products such as cafeteria trays. This could be as soon as 2017, according to Kosior.


Search recyled resins in PT's Material Database.