Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Starbucks Makes Cups from Cups

Earlier this month, Starbucks Coffee Company and International Paper, with Mississippi River Pulp, LLC., completed a six-week pilot project that – for the first time – proved Starbucks used paper cups can be recycled into new paper cups, or at least into 10% of a new cup so far.  This advancement brings Starbucks one step closer to its ambitious and leadership goal of ensuring 100 percent of its cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015.

“This innovation represents an important milestone in our journey,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of Environmental Impact. “We still have a lot of work to do to reach our 2015 goal, but we’re now in a much stronger position to build momentum across the recycling industry. Our next step is to test this concept in a major city, which we plan to do in collaboration with International Paper and Mississippi River in 2011.”

While some communities already recycle paper cups, most do not have the infrastructure in place to handle collection, hauling, and processing due to a lack of demand for cup material by the recycling industry. To date, Mississippi River is the only pulp mill in the U.S. that has successfully recycled used cups into fiber suitable for producing new cups.

The Paper Planet wonders.....

Could other companies follow the lead of Starbucks to find a market use for their wastestream and a fiber source for its new products, such as KFC, who is currently dealing with heavy criticism for sourcing its iconic buckets from endangered forests?  What if Starbucks and additional retail food service companies banded together to create economies of scale for cup recycling?

Will the new cups made by International Paper still max out at 10% post consumer fiber, or can it grow that amount to use more recovered cups?

And if recovered coffee cups grows as a fiber source for tissue, will that create more availability and better prices for high-grade office paper to be made back into printing and writing paper, its highest and best use? 

What do you think?

No comments: