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Disposable cups in vending...Part two

Disposable cups in vending…Part two

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Municipal waste facilities are not currently able to separate cups efficiently from other materials. The recyclate has too low a value and volume to make it worthwhile developing technology for the separation so that the effective reprocessing of paper, polystyrene or polypropylene depends on the efficient collection of single material streams. The situation with PLA cups is more extreme. Mixed plastic recyclate has a very low value and the mixing of PLA cups with cups made from other materials makes the recycled mixture virtually worthless.

Until very recently no large waste handling company was interested in collecting post-consumer cups. Companies are now offering a post back service or the collection of decontaminated cups ready for baling but very few offer collection of post-consumer cups from business premises.

Among the few companies that currently offer this service, there are currently two models of operation, the open and the closed.

In the open model, a waste handling company offers a service to vending clients to collect cups along with other recyclables. Each type of waste – cans, bottles, cups – is collected in a separate container which is then emptied regularly by the waste handling company. Although the materials are collected separately the cups still need decontaminating before being baled. The bales are then stored until there is sufficient volume to dispatch to a specific reprocessor.

This collection model is currently available in from Simply Cups. They also offer the option for vending clients to package their waste cups and send them in by post.

In the closed model, a vending company collects the cups, along with other recyclables. In this case the service is only available to clients of the vending company. In this model the vending company adapts their vehicles to collect the recyclables regularly when refilling and servicing the machines. The one example of this model at present is operated by Options Recycling. The model is efficient in terms of collection but requires the vending company to have a waste handling licence, decontamination facilities and sufficient storage space to store the baled materials in order to build up sufficient stock to make onward transport economic, before they are sold.

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