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Starbucks to test new recyclable cup

One in every 400 disposable paper cups is recycled, apparently. But entrepreneur Martin Myerscough believes he’s come up with a solution.

His Frugalpac cup is: made from recycled paper; recyclable in normal paper mills; and weighs in at half the carbon footprint of a standard single-use cup.

The key, said Myerscough, is lightly gluing the liner so it separates more easily during the recycling process. Traditionally, the plastic film has been tightly bonded to the paper, which makes separation expensive.

Starbucks is “very interested” in finding out more about the new receptacle, a spokesman confirmed. “We will be testing it to see if it meets our standards for safety and quality with a view to trialling its recyclability,” he added.

The coffee chain was among the targets in a campaign fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recently.

Starbucks claims on its website to be “on track” with a target to “make 100 per cent of our cups reusable or recyclable by 2015”, the chef and (more lately) waste campaigner explained. “I challenge Starbucks to prove that they recycled a single coffee cup in the UK in 2015.”

He also criticised Costa’s claim that it uses “the most environmentally friendly coffee cup in the world”.

The packaging industry and major coffee retailers have since launched a Paper Cup Manifesto with the objective of significantly increasing paper cup recovery and recycling rates by 2020.

Suggestions that the government was considering taxing disposable cups may also have spurred them into action.

Chris Sherrington, a principal consultant at consultancy Eunomia, welcomed Frugalpac’s innovation but suggested that there’s a role for a well-designed economic instrument, like a levy.

“In line with circular economy principles we should be aiming first to reduce the consumption of single-use cups, while also seeking to increase the proportion of those that are used that are subsequently recycled,” he explained.