Published On: Thu, Dec 2nd, 2010

International Paper, Starbucks Partner on Program to Recycle Cups


Starbucks Coffee Co. and International Paper, along with Mississippi River Pulp, LLC, have recently completed a six-week pilot project to demonstrate that used paper cups generated at Starbucks stores can be recycled into new paper cups.

Starbucks says that the project is part of the company’s plan to get closer to its goal of ensuring 100 percent of its cups are reusable or recyclable by 2015.

“This innovation represents an important milestone in our journey,” says Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of environmental impact. “We still have a lot of work to do to reach our 2015 goal, but we’re now in a much stronger position to build momentum across the recycling industry. Our next step is to test this concept in a major city, which we plan to do in collaboration with International Paper and Mississippi River in 2011.”

According to a news release, Starbucks says that Mississippi River Pulp is the only pulp mill in the United States so far that has successfully recycled used cups into fiber suitable for producing new cups.

“What’s really exciting about the cup-to-cup concept is that it has the potential to benefit not only Starbucks, but the entire foodservice industry,” says Greg Wanta, vice president of International Paper Foodservice. “If we can continue to prove the value of used cup material generated by Starbucks and other retailers, we can help increase recycling rates in communities across the country.”

“We’re looking forward to working with Starbucks, International Paper, and other stakeholders to take the pilot project to the next level,” says Rob Garland, CEO at Mississippi River. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we think this is a very promising path.”

Starbucks launched its first paper cup containing post-consumer recycled fiber (PCF) in 2006, following several years of collaboration with Mississippi River. Over time, Starbucks has switched to cups made from 10 percent PCF and has diverted nearly 200 million pounds of paper from the landfill, the company says. While the its standard paper cups contain PCF made from office paper, the PCF used for the pilot project incorporates cup material.

Starbucks has another recycling pilot project underway in New York City. The company is collecting paper cups at 86 of its Manhattan stores to determine whether they can be recycled into bath tissue and paper towels. In early 2011, Starbucks plans to launch a new recycling pilot in Chicago, designed to transform the company’s discarded paper cups into napkins for use in its stores. Over the past year, Starbucks has introduced front-of-store cup collection in Toronto and Seattle, where its cups can be recycled, and in San Francisco, where its cups can be composted.


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