Starbucks has completed a six-week pilot program to prove that its paper cups, shown here at a store in Seattle on Oct. 17, can be recycled into new cups.
From Birth to Death & Back Again: The Starbuck Cup Story
December 1, 2010 by smartcup
By Stephen Brashear, for USA TODAY
Starbucks has completed a six-week pilot program to prove that its paper cups, shown here at a store in Seattle on Oct. 17, can be recycled into new cups. Starbucks paper cups end up in the trash, but the coffee giant is trying to change that. It has completed a six-week pilot program that shows its used cups can be recycled into new cups.
Some U.S. communities such as Seattle already recycle the paper cups (San Francisco composts them), but most do not. Stores cite a lack of demand for used cup material, including Starbucks’ thin plastic-like interior coating.
Yet to promote their recycling, Starbucks Coffee Company collected 6,000 pounds of used paper cups in the Toronto area and sent them to Mississippi River Pulp, the only pulp mill in the United States that has successfully recycled used cups into fiber suitable for making new cups. The result was a cup-to-cup success.
“This innovation represents an important milestone in our journey,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact, in a statement. By 2015, Starbucks aims to have all its paper cups — one billion a year –be reusable or recyclable.
Greg Wanta, vice president for food service at International Paper, who turned the recycled cup fiber into new cups, told The New York Times that much remains to be learned before replicating the pilot on a larger scale.
“We have not even looked at the costs, ” he said. “It is way too early.”
Starbucks currently has another recycling pilot project underway in New York City, where it’s collecting paper cups at 86 stores to determine whether they can be recycled into bath tissue and paper towels. Early next year, it plans to launch a pilot in Chicago to recycle paper cups into napkins.