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Drawing Conclusions: New Life for Coffee Cups

Alpine Waste & Recycling tackles disposable cup recycling project


Until now, recycling disposable coffee cups in an economically feasible manner was difficult, if not impossible, thanks to the thin layer of film that prevents liquids from seeping through. But Denver-based Alpine Waste & Recycling believes it has surmounted that hurdle. 

Starting this fall, Alpine will ship coffee cups to Sustana, a pulp mill in De Pere, Wisconsin, for recycling. 

"The challenge has been separating the film from the pulp product at the mill," Alpine spokesperson Steve Caulk says. "This mill in Wisconsin has determined they can do it."

First, though, Alpine will have to sort and bale the cups.

“A little less than two years ago, we installed a robot from AMP Robotics of Denver, and we are getting the robot ‘geared up’ to recognize the cups and pick them from the recycling line,” says Alpine Vice President Brent Hildebrand, adding that he expected the new process to be fully operational the first week of October. “The beauty of this is that the clients do NOT have to separate the cups from the rest of the recyclables. 
We do that at the plant, both by hand and by robot.”

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Drew Thurston

Drew Thurston has been illustrating for magazines and books for the last 20 years, and has been painting a wide variety of subject matter for much longer. He lives with his wife and three children in Littleton, where he grew up. Connect with him on dtrenaissanceman@aol.com.

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