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Sustainable communication par excellence

Disposable paper cups become the raw material for graphic paper


According to the Federal Environmental Agency, 2.8 billion disposable cups are consumed each year in Germany alone. Around 60% of these are plastic-coated paper cups which are currently thrown away, as they cannot be recycled in a reasonable and economically meaningful manner.

Disposable paper cups become the raw material for graphic paper

The reason for this is the plastic coating on the inside, which prevents the cups from leaking or softening. The composite material of paper and plastic slows the recycling process. So far, the paper fibres could only be separated from the plastic coating in special recycling facilities and with a large amount of effort. However, separating the two materials is the prerequisite for restoring the paper fibres to the recycling loop. A newly developed, innovative recycling product now enables the fresh fibre pulp from disposable cups to be returned to the recycling loop in a resource saving and efficient way, without disproportionate additional input in the paper treatment process.

The innovative idea for the new product comes from the Printing and Media Technology department of the creart advertising agency in Fulda, in the state of Hesse. “The upcycling that takes place here serves to upgrade the material,” explains authorised officer Torsten Gröger, who came up with the idea. “The waste product of disposable cups become a raw material again, in this case for a graphic paper that can be used for various purposes in communication and advertising.” As the name suggests, CoffeeCup Paper comprises around 25% disposable paper cups and 75% directly recyclable waste paper. Once manufactured, it can be recycled again at least six more times.

The CoffeeCup Paper project was undertaken and the new recycling product realised together with IGEPA Großhandel GmbH as sales and project partner. Papierfabrik Koehler Greiz GmbH & Co. KG, part of the Koehler Paper Group, was recruited as co-operation partner. “The new procedure works and makes the recycling process for disposable paper cups both simple and economical,” says Udo Hollbach, Managing Director of Papierfabrik Koehler Greiz. “Working together and with the great commitment and expertise of all those involved, it proved possible to realise a special and pioneering project.” Koehler Greiz is behind the investments, which number in the millions, that will be required for the process to be expanded further and aligned optimally for the tasks of the future.

McDonald´s Deutschland is a pioneer in the realisation and manufacture of the first batch of CoffeeCup Paper. The company has been collecting cups for hot and cold beverages for recycling projects in its restaurants since April 2019. The 2019 sustainability update of the chain was printed on a run of over 350,000 pieces of CoffeeCup Paper made from recycled McDonald´s cups and waste paper. “With the option of printing our sustainability update on our own cups, thanks to CoffeeCup Paper, we are able to offer our guests tangible sustainability,” says Daniel Neusser, Department Head Sustainability at McDonald’s Deutschland. “The project shows that here at McDonald’s we have an overview of the entire life cycle of packaging, working continuously to close the recycling loop.”

The goal and major challenge for 2021 is now to make sufficient cup capacity available to enable CoffeeCup Paper to not only be used exclusively for special projects, but to be freely available on the market. “We now need more providers in the fast-food sector to collect their cups for us, thereby helping to transform waste into raw material for the recycling loop,” says Wolfgang Suerbaum, Managing Director of IGEPA Großhandel GmbH. “Participation in our project enables collaborating fast-food chains to take a positive position with regard to sustainability, whilst reducing their own waste disposal costs at the same time.”

The process is to be made as simple as possible for the participating companies. It is possible to have the disposable cups collected by IGEPA directly at the restaurants and stores and brought to the paper factory. Alternatively, the cups can also be collected by the respective distributors and disposal firms and collected by IGEPA from their central storage sites.

With the slogan “Many cups – one common goal.” the initiators are looking forward to enquiries, discussions and new partnerships. CoffeeCup Paper represents a genuine opportunity for all project participants to demonstrate credible and authentic sustainability and render it tangle,” says Torsten Gröger.

About CoffeeCup Paper

CoffeeCup Paper is a graphic paper and a recycled product made from 100% waste paper. It comprises 25% disposable paper cups and 75% directly recyclable waste paper. In the case of the disposable cups, the plastic used to coat them is firstly separated, enabling the paper fibres that would otherwise have been lost directly as waste to be returned to the recycling process. CoffeeCup Paper is an optically and haptically appealing paper that offers countless options for printing, further processing and use. With a CIE whiteness of 80, the paper is perceived as visually very pleasant, without losing its recycled character. With its origin and story, it highlights sustainability messages like no other recycled paper. It is a product for everyday use, offering fair value for money. Once manufactured, it can be recycled again at least six more times. Further information at:

What is behind CoffeeCup Paper?

CoffeeCup Paper is a registered trademark of Neidhardt Werbe GmbH. The new recycling product enables the simple and economical return of the paper fibre from disposable cups to the recycling loop. It was developed and realised by a consortium of three companies: „creart - Die Werbeagentur. Die Werbeproduktion.“, who came up with the idea, Papierfabrik Koehler Greiz GmbH & Co. KG - part of the Koehler Paper Group - as manufacturer and IGEPA Großhandel GmbH as sales and project partner. McDonald´s Deutschland is the first fast-food chain to supply disposable cups and therefore raw materials for the production of CoffeeCup Paper.

Disposable paper cups become the raw material for graphic paper

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