+ Recycled or recyclable?
There is a fundamental difference between recycled and recyclable materials. Many materials are recyclable, but without proper waste separation they will end up getting burnt at the waste facility anyway. So in practice, many of these recyclable materials are not getting recycled. On side of the process, there are cups and other products available that have been made out of recycled materials. Less fossil materials are used in their production, or none at all.
+ What is a mono-flow and why is it important?
Proper recycling is only possible if the waste collector delivers the waste to the recycling facility without contamination. What’s more, it’s important that the different types of plastic are collected separately. When the different types of plastic are properly and separately collected, it’s called a mono-flow.
+ What is the most sustainable way to recycle?
If a cup gets recycled to a new cup, and not a kitchen cupboard or something else, then it’s called circular recycling. This is the most sustainable type of recycling.
If you want to turn a used cup into a new transparent cup, as is possible with rPET, then do not use prints on the cup, because ink contaminates the mono-flow. Embossing is a fine alternative.
+ Which types of plastic cups are suitable for sustainable recycling?
At the time of writing, PET/rPET is the only material that is suitable for circular recycling. This means that you can make a new cup from an old cup without having to add new materials. The use of rPET (recycled PET) roughly cuts carbon emissions in half. If all cups really end up getting recycled, this material is the most sustainable choice for plastic disposable cups. The disadvantage of PET is that it is not suitable for warm drinks, contrary to PP.
In many applications, Polypropylene (PP) is very suitable for recycling. But this is not the case with cups or (disposable) tableware. Recycling PP cups is therefore downcycling: the value diminishes and it is not a circular solution. However, for serving hot drinks in plastic cups, PP is advised.
PLA is a renewable kind of plastic, based on biological materials. The most important property of PLA and other bio-based disposables is that they’re made of renewable materials. By the way, this doesn’t mean that they they’re biodegradable. So they should still go into the bin and not onto the ground!
Currently there are no waste disposal facilities in The Netherlands that process and recycle PLA, but we’re closely following the current developments. As soon as PLA-cups become recyclable to a new usable material, they might emerge as a sustainable alternative for the events industry. But only if the used bio-based materials are sourced sustainably, in a way that doesn’t lead to deforestation or other environmental problems.
+ How should I organise the collection of cups?
For the sake of a clean mono-flow it’s important to have an effective deposit scheme. Give you cups some kind of value, so that visitors feel inclined to return them after use. Because the payment of the deposit is sometimes hard to organise and prone to fraud, many organisations opt for an alternative: a souvenir or a voucher. This alternative needs to carry enough value for the visitor. A sympathetic and sustainable option is placing bins in which visitors can donate their cup payment to a good cause.
Consider giving visitors their first cup for free by handing out a cup coin at the entrance. The visitors exchange this coin for a free cup when ordering their first drink. Cups that end up on the ground or in the wrong waste bin, are no longer suitable for recycling. That’s why we suggest using the logos and key visuals of the ‘Never Give Up On Your Cup’ campaign in your communication towards the visitor. Download the media kit here.
+ How does the recycling process work?
The recycling process demands cooperation from the whole chain. So it’s important to involve all stakeholders in the process. Please consider:
- The recycling company / the plastic producer: what are the terms for acceptation? How should the used cups (mono-flow) be delivered and how much ‘contamination’ is still workable?
- Cup producer: what is the cup made of, which materials have been used and where are they sourced?
- Cup supplier/drinks brands: what material is the cup made of? Are all cups made of the same materials (mono-flow)? Is there a print on the cup or can we do without printing (or use embossing instead)?
- Bar crew & production staff: discuss how cups should be collected to guarantee a clean mono-flow.
- Visitor: the visitor is a key player in keeping the mono-flow clean and recyclable. Cups that end up on the ground or in the wrong waste bin, are no longer suitable for recycling. That’s why we suggest using the logos and key visuals of the ‘Never Give Up On Your Cup’ campaign in your communication towards the visitor. Download the media kit here.
- Cleaning company: Bar crew & production staff: discuss how cups should be collected to guarantee a clean mono-flow.
- Waste collector: Bar crew & production staff: discuss how cups should be collected to guarantee a clean mono-flow and to which recycling company they need to be transported.
+ What does the chain look like for recyclable cups?
View the PDF