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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Environment Minister welcomes EHP's involvement in coffee cup collection and recycling trial

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    Environment Minister welcomes EHP's involvement in coffee cup collection and recycling trial

    An innovative pilot project has trialled the collection and recycling of disposable coffee cups in Brisbane, generating almost 4,300 cups over four weeks.

    The collected coffee cups will be on display at the Brunswick Street Mall tomorrow (Wednesday) for two hours from 8am to raise awareness of waste minimisation and recycling.

    Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has partnered with Brisbane City Council and Closed Loop Recycling for the trial, which finished earlier this month.

    “An estimated one billion disposable coffee cups are sent to landfill in Australia each year,” Dr Miles said.

    “During the trial, disposable coffee cups were collected from the Brisbane City Council Green Square building.

    “The liquid-proof coating on disposable paper cups makes them unsuitable for conventional recycling, often causing confusion among the public and contaminating other materials collected in recycling bins.

    “The trial aims to investigate amounts, costs and logistics of collection, and will provide information to assess the potential for establishment of collection and recycling systems and infrastructure in Queensland.

    “Disposable coffee cups and plastic lids are also commonly littered, adding to the load of plastic contamination and visual pollution in the environment.

    “Litter is a major problem in Queensland which is why the Queensland Government is introducing a Container Refund Scheme to get drink cans and bottles out of our beaches, parks and public areas.”

    Closed Loop Managing Director Robert Pascoe said Closed Loop has been running a coffee cup collection program in the UK where it has recycled more than seven million cups.

    “The biggest hurdle to establishing a recycling solution is the separation of coffee cups from other waste streams,” Mr Pascoe said.

    “They behave just like cardboard through the sorting process but they cannot be recycled in the same way as cardboard because of the liquid-proof liner.

    “This means coffee cups are a nuisance for cardboard recyclers – and they all get thrown into landfill.”

    The pilot project has shown that coffee cups can be collected separately using a clean, simple and efficient system.

    “We have collected 12,000 cups from three office buildings in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney over a four week period,” Mr Pascoe said, adding 4296 cups were collected in Brisbane - the most of any state.

    “Based on these numbers, investment in a recycling facility in Australia is pretty easy to justify economically.

    “We have teamed up with researchers in the UK and have developed a technology that combines the coffee cups with a polymer. The output is a durable plastic-fibre compound that can be used for almost anything.

    “We will now crunch the numbers to build the business case for establishing a world-first, dedicated facility to up-cycle this growing by-product of our coffee culture,” he said.

    ENDS

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