Stora Enso, Helsinki, aims to start recycling used paper cups on a large scale at its Langerbrugge Mill in Belgium. Stora Enso provides renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper.
Based on production trials, Stora Enso has the technical feasibility to recycle paper cups for use in other paper applications, the company reports in a news release. It is now looking into partnerships for the collection and sorting of used paper cups to ensure that this high-quality fiber material is captured and given a second life.
According to a Stora Enso news release, recycled fiber is an important raw material for the company as it is aligned with its commitment toward a renewable and circular business. The paperboard for cups is made of high-quality, renewable fibers, which can have several lives as the result of recycling. Recycling a paper cup can reduce its carbon footprint by half. Stora Enso says this could be an opportunity to drive more effective paper cup recycling by developing circular models with partners across the value chain.
“With efficient recycling processes, food service companies using wood fiber-based cups can improve their environmental footprint,” says Annica Bresky, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s consumer board division. “Recycling must be made easy for consumers, that is why we want to invite partners and customers to jointly develop business models for collecting paper cups.”
In recycling trials at the Langerbrugge Mill, 500,000 baled postconsumer paper cups collected from fast-food restaurants and coffee houses were repulped and recycled into magazine paper. Stora Enso says the results from the trials confirmed that paper cups can be recycled at the mill without any additional process equipment and that the fibers are well-suited for other paper applications, such as magazine paper production.
Stora Enso’s Langerbrugge Mill is one the largest paper mills in Europe, producing 540,000 metric tons of recycled newsprint and magazine papers annually. The production is exclusively based on paper for recycling. The mill is located in continental Europe, with about 80 million people living within 300 kilometers, providing a large enough source for recycled raw materials.
“We see paper cups as a valuable raw material for our process. Used paper cups provide a potential source of high-quality fibre for the production of magazine paper,” says Rik Van Bostraeten, sourcing manager, multifuel and business innovation, at the Stora Enso Langerbrugge Mill. “Langerbrugge Mill has the technical readiness to accept billions of used cups for recycling within our sourcing area. The challenge is more about getting these cups to us on the industrial scale that our production would require.”