Cup Print in Ireland has become the first factory to take a revolutionary new packaging machine to produce the easier-to-recycle Frugalpac paper coffee cup.
The multi-award winning factory in Ennis, Co Clare already produces standard cups for clients including Mars, Kraft and Bunzl and makes 150m cups per year. The new machine will allow Frugalpac to meet the high demand for trials and testing from interested customers, including Starbucks.
Frugalpac will eventually licence the technology to other cup manufacturers on a non-exclusive basis so that customers can remain with their existing suppliers if they so wish.
Frugalpac is an innovative British packaging company which has created a revolutionary new paper coffee cup that could solve the problem that only 1 in 400 is currently recycled and most end up in landfill.
Not only is it an answer to a nationwide problem, but it is the first Frugalpac packaging innovation in a line of ground-breaking new products. Three other products based around the same technology are due to be launched over the next nine months.
The Frugalpac cup is made from recycled paper, is competitively priced and recyclable in normal paper mills. And a test by the independent inspection, product testing and certification company Intertek found the carbon footprint of a Frugalpac cup is about half that of many of today's normal paper takeaway cups.
Starbucks have already agreed to evaluate the Frugalpac cup, which featured in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's War on Waste programme on BBC Television in July, with a view to trialling it,. Since then, Frugalpac has been inundated with inquiries from retailers, manufacturers and intermediaries.
UK Environment Minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, whose brief includes recycling, visited and formally opened Frugalpac's offices in Brightwell, Suffolk on Friday 16 September 2016.
She said, "It is vital for our environment and economy that we make the most of our resources. That is why it is great to see an example of innovation that could help the environment and become a great British export. We must all do our bit to reduce waste."
More than 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are currently disposed of in the UK every year. Put them end-to-end and they would go around the world five and a half times, would weigh as much as a battleship and are made from over 100,000 trees.
But very few of these cups get recycled and nearly all end up in landfill – that's 25,000 tonnes of waste a year – enough to fill London's Royal Albert Hall.
Existing cups are made using virgin paper from mature trees. A thin layer of plastic film is bonded to the paper while it is flat. The film provides the waterproof layer to the cup, without which the cup would leak and go soft. Waterproof chemical agents are also added to the paper. This flat sheet is then printed and formed into the cup.
Existing cups require specialist recycling facilities because the plastic film does not separate from the paper in a normal recycling centre. The specialist process uses a lot more energy and chemicals than normal paper recycling. In most countries, once the cups have left the store, there is no mechanism for transporting them to specialist mills.
At present, there are only two places in the whole of the UK that can recycle conventional paper cups which is why so few currently get recycled.
But Frugalpac cups are made from recycled paper which is formed into a cup first without adding chemicals to the paper. A thin preformed plastic liner is lightly bonded into the paper cup. The top of the liner is then rolled over the lip of the cup which looks, feels and performs just like the conventional cup.
Because the liner is so lightly glued in place, when the cup goes to the standard paper mills it separates from the paper in the recycling process. This means Frugalpac cups can be disposed of in newspaper recycling bins. This will help a confused public – a Which? report found 8 in 10 people thought existing cups were already being recycled. The paper used to make Frugalpac cups can be recycled up to seven times, typically for newspapers.
Martin Myerscough, Frugalpac's founder, said: "We're delighted that Cup Print have taken our first Frugalpac machine and will now be able to deliver our cups for trials and testing. It's a big step for Frugalpac and a signal of our confidence not only in the cup but also in the market for it.
"We have received interest from around the world for the Frugalpac cup, including from Starbucks. Our new facility at Cup Print will allow us to start to meet this demand.
"Ultimately we will build even larger Frugalpac machines for cup producers by licensing the technology to them. But we're really pleased that Cup Print is our first partner."
Terry Fox, Cup Print's Managing Director, added: "We're thrilled that Cup Print has been chosen to mass produce the first Frugalpac cups. Cup Print is the world's fastest paper cup manufacturer and produces single wall and double wall cups.
"We already supply independent cafés and marketing companies all over Europe and we look forward to being able to offer the Frugalpac cup to them, following the forthcoming tests and trials with several potential customers. The interest and excitement we've seen for this innovative and easier-to-recycle coffee cup has been remarkable and we look forward to playing our part in taking it to market."