DENVER — Roughly 600,000 tons of paper beverage cups are used each year in the United States, and far too much of this valuable material ends up in landfills. Today, Denver Public Works and members of Denver City Council announced that Denver is now one of the leading cities in the country to add paper cups to its recycling program, thanks to a partnership with the Foodservice Packaging Institute and Alpine Waste & Recycling.
As a result, all households with a purple cart can now include coffee and soda paper cups on their recycling list.
“Denver residents have proven to be great recyclers by helping increase the city’s recycling rate to what is now 22 percent,” said Eulois Cleckley, Executive Director of Denver Public Works. “The City is excited to enter this new partnership to give our community the opportunity to save even more valuable resources from ending up in the landfill by simply recycling paper cups at home.”
Paper cups were once thought to be non-recyclable due to their plastic coating, which insulates and prevents leaks, however, a growing number of mills are now able to recycle paper cups. When recycled, paper cups are a source of high-quality paper.
Denver-based Alpine Waste & Recycling, who processes almost 40,000 tons of recyclables for the City each year, will also help Denver Public Works process paper cups through a pulp mill in De Pere, Wisconsin. Sustana is one of over a dozen mills in the U.S. and Canada that have committed to recycling paper cups.
“Since its origin 20 years ago, Alpine has promoted a sense of innovation and environmental stewardship in the industry,” said Brent Hildebrand, Vice President of Recycling at Alpine Waste & Recycling. “We’re proud to have a role in which cups can now be recycled and turned into new cups or other products, with help from companies like Sustana.”
The city expanding its recycling program to include paper cups will help further the city’s goal of increasing its recycling rate to 34 percent, the national average, as outlined in Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s 2020 Sustainability Goals.
“We are thrilled to support Denver’s interest in recycling more items, especially paper cups and other foodservice packaging items,” said Lynn Dyer, President of the Foodservice Packaging Institute. “Denver is a leader in recognizing the opportunity to recycle these valuable materials.”
In the coming months, Denver residents can expect to receive a postcard in the mail, educating them about how to recycle paper cups correctly. Before placing a paper cup in a purple cart, it must be clean and empty. All sleeves, lids, straws and stirrers will also need to be removed. Recycling only the paper cup is very important to the process.
Denver Recycles would like to remind residents that even though paper cups can now be recycled, reusable cups are still the best environmental choice! To learn more and to see a list of all items accepted for recycling in Denver, please visit denvergov.org/DenverRecycles.