earthcoating cup barrier
Paper industry veteran Johnny Gold says Smart Planet’s EarthCoating is mineral-based and 100 percent recyclable.
Photo courtesy of Smart Planet Technologies.

Smart Planet touts its recyclable cup coating

California-based company says single-use cups with its coating are fully recyclable at paper mills.

May 27, 2021

Newport Beach, California-based Smart Planet Technologies says its EarthCoating barrier for paper cups is 100 percent recyclable and has demonstrated its recyclability at paper mills in the United Kingdom and Australia.

“In Australia, paper cups with EarthCoating are being made into copy paper, gift wrap and paper bags, rather than sending them to the landfill,” says Johnny Gold. Gold is a New Jersey-based paper recycling and containerboard industry veteran who now serves on Smart Planet’s advisory board.

“Unlike conventional polycoated paperboard materials, paper materials with EarthCoating are excellent feedstock for recycled paper mills to make premium paper products, profitably, without subsidy,” says Gold, who served as a mill buyer for several decades with the former Newark Group.

Gold says the Smart Planet coating provides a more viable option for single-use paper cup viability going forward in part because of increasing scrutiny of the polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFA) levels in some of the barriers being touted as compostable. “The Smart Planet coating works as well as poly-lined cups and is mineral-based and 100 percent recyclable,” he states.

“A California commission is going to recommend no compostable packaging containing PFAs, [and] studies are showing that there are high levels of PFAs in the compost when compostable packaging is included, regardless of legislation,” adds Gold, pointing to an Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) study

Smart Planet has been conducting its own research, Gold says, pointing to pulp and paper mills as the preferable landfill diversion option for paper cups compared with composting. “Unfortunately, this may be discovered after farmlands are already laden with compost that includes these chemicals,” says Gold. “Since they are ‘forever’ chemicals, if the land is spoiled once, it’s going to stay that way.”

He continues, “Providing such easy regulations to put ‘compostable’ on a package, and given [a] track record of the prevalent use of toxic chemicals in some packaging, how would we put America's consumers and farmers at such risk? Such easy labeling encourages more compostable packaging, instead of recyclable packaging.”

On its website, Smart Planet offers additional information on the repulpability of EarthCoating, and visitors to the site can order a full report on that subject.