Stora Enso aims to start recycling used paper cups on a large scale at its Langerbrugge Mill in Belgium. Based on production trials, Stora Enso possesses the technical feasibility to recycle paper cups for use in other paper applications. Stora Enso is now looking into partnerships for the collection and sorting of used paper cups to ensure that this high-quality fibre material is captured and given a second life.
Recycled fibre is an important raw material for Stora Enso as it is aligned with the company’s commitment towards a renewable and circular business. The paper board for cups is made of high-quality, renewable fibres, which can have several lives due to recycling. Recycling a paper cup can reduce its life cycle carbon footprint by half. Stora Enso sees this as an opportunity for driving more effective paper cup recycling by developing circular models with partners across the value chain.
“With efficient recycling processes, food service companies using wood fibre-based cups can improve their environmental footprint. 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,” says Annica Bresky, Executive Vice President of the Stora Enso Consumer Board division.
In recycling trials at Langerbrugge Mill, half a million baled post-consumer paper cups collected from fast food restaurants and coffee houses were re-pulped and recycled into magazine paper. The result confirmed that paper cups can be recycled at the mill without any additional process equipment, and that the fibres 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 tons of recycled newsprint and magazine papers annually. The production is exclusively based on paper for recycling. The mill is conveniently located in Continental Europe with about 80 million people living within 300 kilometres of the mill, thus 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. 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,” says Rik Van Bostraeten, Sourcing Manager, Multifuel & Business Innovation, Stora Enso Langerbrugge Mill.