November 3, 2023
The NextGen Consortium has unveiled a new report, aiming to boost paper cup recycling in the United States.
Th consortium is led by Closed Loop Partners in partnership with partner brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, JDE Peet’s, The Wendy’s Company and Yum! Brands.
The report, titled "Closing the Loop on Cups: Collective Action to Advance the Recovery of Paper Cups in the U.S.," examines the roles of various stakeholders within the paper cup recovery value chain, including paper mills, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), brands, consumers, and local communities, and offers recommended actions to boost paper cup recovery and promote a more circular system.
"Every day, millions of people around the world drink from paper cups. They’re safe, functional, and convenient – so much so that globally, more than 250 billion cups are produced each year. But convenience comes with environmental consequences: the majority of cups end up in landfill today," the report states.
The NextGen Consortium has adopted a three-fold approach to comprehensively address the issue of cup waste: advancing reusable cup systems, exploring innovations in material science to enhance cup sustainability, and bolstering materials recovery and recycling infrastructure to recapture used cups.
The report emphasizes the urgent need to strengthen existing materials recovery and recycling systems to recover more paper cups and prevent their value, primarily composed of valuable fiber and plastic liners, from going to waste in landfills. The report outlines key challenges and opportunities, including the limited acceptance of cups in recycling operations in just 11 percent of communities, hindering cup recycling efforts.
Kate Daly, Managing Director and Head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, stresses the importance of collaboration in tackling the challenge of paper cup waste, stating, "The NextGen Consortium plays a key role in advancing the innovation, testing, and partnerships needed to make this possible."
Since its inception in 2018, the NextGen Consortium has taken a holistic and collaborative approach to address single-use cup waste, focusing on material reduction, reuse, and recovery pathways. As the Consortium strives to eliminate foodservice packaging waste, it will continue to work on improving and aligning recovery and recycling infrastructure across the value chain, emphasizing collaborative action, data-driven decision-making, and iterative testing to create a more circular economy.
Source: Closed Loop Partners