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[greenyes] Re: Starbucks Recycled Content Cups

One likely difference is that I cannot think of any frozen foods that
come into direct contact with the paper packaging as would happen with a
paper cup.

With frozen foods, there's usually a plastic dish inside with a film
covering it in the case of a microwaveable product or the food is
wrapped in a plastic film or liner bag in the case of a boxed frozen
vegetable or pizza.

Mark Snyder
Pollution Prevention Specialist
Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance

>>> "Doug Koplow" <koplow@no.address> 11/19/2004 9:01:35 AM >>>

I've heard that recycled fiber is already used to a fairly high degree
in frozen food packaging, though have no specifics. Do you have any
idea about the post-consumer recycled content for that application? Are
there lessons for the cup application, or is the hot liquids issue
simply far more demanding than holding frozen food?


Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> Susan Kinsella <seek@no.address> 11/19/04 01:25AM >>>
I see that Doug Koplow wrote a terrific response (no surprise) about
subsidy issues, so I will respond instead to the cost and content
regarding paper recycling. First, I think the statement in question is
pretty glib - there is so much complexity involved that to say
procedures to turn what is essentially trash into usable paper
makes me wince. "Trash"??? How long have we been working to change
mindset?! However, while I don't know all the specifics of the mills
involved in this deal, there are several factors that may create
prices for the recycled paper:

1) The deinking pulp mill providing the recycled pulp is the only one
far certified to provide this level of FDA-approved pulp, so there is
limited supply,

2) The deinking pulp mill is a stand-alone mill (which is true for
much of
the high grade deinked pulp available in North America at this time).
it is not integrated into the papermaking mill, as most virgin pulp
are, its product both has to be shipped to the paper mill and also
another layer of commerce to the deal,

3) If the papermaking mill has a virgin pulp mill that otherwise
all its fiber requirements, it will have to idle some of its virgin
capacity to replace it with recycled pulp. Since this is kraft pulp,
means that its virgin pulp is created by cooking down the tree, with
about half resulting in papermaking fiber. The rest of the tree
material is
sent off to another part of the mill to co-generate energy. If the
instead has to idle some of its virgin pulping, it is also idling some
its co-generation capacity and then must buy outside fuel.

These are economic issues that can be changed when recycling becomes
integrated into paper mills. Starbucks' dedication to incorporating
content into its cups is a great step towards that future. There's no
question that source reduction via reusable cups is the best, but I'm
hopeful we're going to be getting there quickly. In the meantime, as
long as
there are disposable cups, making them with as much recycled content
possible is a good thing.

How much is possible? I don't think that anyone yet knows. We have been
by at least one industry source that recycled fiber doesn't perform
beyond 30% postconsumer when it is in constant contact with aqueous
I would think that a paper cup would need a high percentage of long
for strength, much higher than for office paper; recycled content is
used to
replace short fibers in paper, so that could limit it in this type of
product. Keep in mind that making a paper cup for hot liquids is very
demanding, with a lot of functionality and safety issues involved as
well as

I don't think people should be disappointed with 10% postconsumer to
with. Rather, I think we should celebrate that Starbucks has pioneered
recycled content in a product that had not had any before, and that
commitment, even at this level, means a lot of deinked recycled fiber
be used because of the number of cups involved. Recycled printing and
writing mills (which use this same kind of pulp) have been closing over
past several years (more than a dozen since 2000) and have not been
because the paper industry has not seen enough demand to convince them
re-invest or to shift the recycled capacity to newer mills. A purchaser
the public profile and clout of Starbucks can change that message,
which is
good for all of us who care about recycling.

We still have a lot of work to do to build the recycled paper system.
don't have the infrastructure to go from zero to 100 right away. As
product is embraced by customers, environmentalists, recyclers, and
other cup manufacturers will be encouraged to follow and possibly go
- in postconsumer content, in types of products included, in technology
research - and that should encourage more investment and development of
necessary recycling infrastructure, which in turn will encourage more
incorporation of recycled content. That's how I think eventually we'll
to a fully functioning recycling economy.

If, instead, everybody picks this step apart and says it's not good
enough -
why would other cup-makers or purchasers follow suit? It takes an
amount of work and coordination to set up the systems to produce and
distribute an advance like this. I say, let's applaud each step - just
sure they keep going and call on the rest of the industry to follow

Susan Kinsella

Susan Kinsella
Executive Director
100 Second Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone - 415/721-4230
Fax - 509/756-6987
E-mail - paper@no.address
Websites -,

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