Cup-to-Cup™ Program

At International Paper, we are committed to expanding the end of life options available for our products.  As part of this commitment, we are aggressively working across the supply chain to increase the ability of consumers to recycle paper cups.

We recently tested the concept of turning used paper cups back into new paper cups.  The story of that trial and some lessons learned at each stage of the cycle are captured below.


To see some of the images documenting how we processed recovered used paper cups into new cups, please click on the camera icon to the right. 


The Consumer

The old cups we collected came from both coffee chains and restaurants and included many different brands.  Consumers did a fair job of following disposal instructions - removing the lid, stir sticks, etc.

 Lessons Learned:

  • Consumers must be willing to participate
  • Consumers must follow the required disposal instructions: no lid, sleeves, straw, food, etc.



    A material recovery facility (MRF) processed and baled the material.

     Lessons Learned:

  • Additional trials are required to confirm if optical sorting equipment can successfully separate paper cups in a single stream (co-mingled) recycling environment
  • Manually separating paper cups at a MRF is expensive and time consuming


    The Recycling Mills

    Mississippi River Pulp, LLC. received the baled product, combined it with other recovered paper material and converted the material into FDA compliant de-inked pulp.

    Lessons Learned:

  • Only a small percentage of mills across the United States are currently capable of processing the material
  • In order to be accepted, the material needs to arrive as "clean" as possible - void of things like lids, sleeves, stir sticks, food, etc.


    Manufacturing Cupstock

    Our coated paperboard mill located in Texarkana, Texas, received the bales of de-inked pulp, combined them with other feedstock materials, and then processed the material into cupstock.

    Lessons Learned:

  • The amount of material processed in this trial had no adverse reaction on our production process
  • The material satisfied the internal and third party lab tests that were conducted throughout all stages of the manufacturing process


    Closing the Loop - Converting Cups

    Our Kenton, Ohio, cup plant successfully converted the cupstock back into paper hot cups using a minimum of 10% PCF.

    Lessons Learned:

  • Again, no issues during manufacturing were noted
  • The product satisfied all of our stringent testing requirements



    Click here for more information on the Mississippi River Pulp, LLC.

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