Are paper cups really that hard to recycle?

Business RecyclingCoffee Cups

According to the BBC, 99.75% of used paper cups don’t get recycled in the UK. And, considering we’re a nation of tea and coffee drinkers, this figure is pretty worrying. So, it’s no wonder the rest of the media has also started shouting out about this issue. The problem lies in the way the cups are made – with a mixture of paper and plastic in the inner lining. This design makes them heat and leakproof, but also very tricky to recycle.

 paper cups

Except that’s not the full story. Yes, paper cups are difficult to recycle, but it is by no means impossible. At Printwaste, we take the cups to West Yorkshire’s Sonoco mill, who have been processing them since last year. And, recently, two more paper mills – DS Smith in Kent and James Cropper in Cumbria – have said they will accept paper cups for recycling.

This is great news, but comes with an important caveat. These mills can only accept the cups if they arrive in large quantity, free from contamination from other materials. If the processors see any contamination, the whole load will be rejected. So, presentation is vital.

This means we need your help. When you’re recycling paper cups, we need you to make sure these are separated from other materials. We can then collate them all properly our end, and ensure the mills accept the load for recycling.

To do so, we offer segregated paper cup schemes – helping businesses successfully implement paper cup recycling. We’ll come and collect the recycling from yourselves, and can do so both in office or from external bins. We collect either by bag of cups or, if in bulk, from large external bins using our specialist vacuum vehicles.

If this is something that interests you, just give us a shout on 01242 588600 or at, and help us get that 99.75% down!


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