Thanks to AkzoNobel's new pioneering coatings technology EvCote Water Barrier 3000 - which itself is made from plant-based oils and recycled PET bottles - restaurants can now select a more sustainable paper cup to serve cold drinks in. These cups don't require any modification in the current recycling stream or special handling, and are fully compostable and recyclable.
"This is an industry-changing innovation that could have a significant impact in terms of providing economic and environmental benefits along the value chain. The new coatings technology will help restaurant owners and cup producers to reduce their waste," explained Conrad Keijzer, AkzoNobel executive committee member responsible for performance coatings.
"There has already been strong interest in our product and we expect it to prompt a major transformation in paper cup production, much like the move from wax to the current polyethylene process approximately 40 years ago," added AB Ghosh, managing director, Industrial Coatings.
Roughly 200 billion paper cups are used around the world every year, but none of those currently in use can be recycled without incurring prohibitive costs or greatly diminishing the quality of the paper fibre. That makes this new technology remarkable, because when paper coated with EvCote is recycled, the quality of the paper fibre remains intact - which means the paper can be reused in the production of other paper products. In some cases, due to the fibres being strengthened by the coating, paper produced from the waste can even achieve higher strength than the original, uncoated paper.
An additional advantage is that it enables paper mills to recapture 100% of the paper waste from the production process that is currently sent to landfill, resulting in significant financial savings. The amount of paper waste in the production process is so vast that it could be used to completely wrap the Empire State Building 6,300 times.
"The cost of paper represents the highest single cost for cup makers, so recycling the industrial scrap means that there are cost and environmental benefits," added Gil Sherman, market development manager at AkzoNobel's paper coatings business. "With the growth of bio-PET, EvCote provides us with options to completely disconnect from the petrol supply chain, because now we can offer our customers a replacement for petroleum-based PE films."
Made of up to 95% sustainable or renewable content, EvCote barrier coatings protect paper surfaces against water, grease and moisture. They can be used in numerous applications, including corrugated packaging, folding carton board, beverage carrier board and food service packaging.