The some 2.5 billion paper cups used every year in the UK aren't recyclable, but one man says he's about to turn the beverage industry upside down. Joel Flynn drinks it in.
If the coffee shop is a defining sign of 21st Century culture, then the paper cup is surely its logo. But despite more attention than ever on reusing materials, this is one item you might be surprised to learn doesn't get recycled. That, says Martin Myerscough, need no longer be the case, thanks to his invention called 'Green Your Cup'. SOUNDBITE: "Green Your Cup" Inventor, Martin Myerscough, saying (English): "Well a normal coffee cup, and this is an example of one, is made out of cardboard, but inside it it's got a very thin plastic film, and that's bonded very tightly to the cardboard, so when it goes to the recycling plants, it's quite difficult for a normal recycling plant to separate the cardboard from the film. So what we said is "why don't we make the cup a different way?" so what we do is make the cardboard cup as it is. We then make the film separately and put it into the cup and make a liner, and this is what you get. It looks exactly the same as a normal cup, but when it goes to the paper mills, all the paper mills - the newspaper mills or the cardboard mills - the liner comes out in the process, separates and gets caught in the filters, and the paper goes through and gets recycled." While it sounds simple, this mini-revolution in paper cup manufacturing could save pounds as well as paper. Myerscough reckons 2.5 billion paper cups are used in the UK alone every year - and another 50 billion annually in the U.S.. He says taking those cups out of landfill sites and into the recycling chain makes sense not just for the environment, but for businesses as well. SOUNDBITE: "Green Your Cup" Inventor, Martin Myerscough, saying (English): "We estimate 25,000 tonnes of paper in the UK every year would be saved and recycled, and of course it goes back into the newspaper or the cardboard recycling stream, and then it goes around about seven times after that. So it's not just the one saving, it rolls on and gets used again." But what do some of the millions of paper cups users in the UK think? SOUNDBITE: Paper Cup User, Emily, saying (English): "If there was the option to recycle them we would, but it's just, sort of, everyone goes for convenience factor, you know? Throw them in the bin I guess." SOUNDBITE: Paper Cup User, Louise, saying (English): "I think it's about time we had a proper paper cup you could recycle, yeah." It might take time for businesses to catch up with Myerscough's invention - it requires the purchase of new manufacturing machines. But with deals already said to be in the pipeline, he thinks it won't be long before companies wake up and smell the coffee.