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Feel good once you finish your Starbucks and place that innocuous paper cup in the recycling bin? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.
While the outside of the cup is made of paper, inside is a thin layer of plastic. The PP (Polypropylene) film protects the liquid from seeping into the paper (and thereby burning you) and keeps your warm drink from cooling too quickly.
Because there are two different materials, the cups cannot be recycled unless the materials are separated, which is impossible to do by hand and requires a special machine.
That’s why the easiest items to recycle are the products made from a single material. Water bottles (100% PET plastic) are a prime example of this.
Coffee cups are similar to the packaging enclosing snacks like health bars. Both are multi-layered, with each layer serving a particular purpose, e.g. wax layer for the label, or the aluminum layer to prevent external heat from altering the chemical composition of the item before you purchase it.
This kind of design, however, makes recycling the product super difficult, especially since the layers are often very thin and stacked tightly on top of one another. It’s just not cost-effective and far too time-consuming for a recycling factory to separate and recycle each piece.
THESE LAYERS ARE NOT VISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE, MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PRODUCT CANNOT BE RECYCLED AS IS.
Posted: Thursday 19 December 2019
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