Starbucks to add 10% recycle content in cups

Pulp and Paper


Millions of paper cups used annually at the U.S. coffeehouses of the world's largest coffee chain, Starbucks Coffee Co., will contain 10% recycled material starting next this year-the first such product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Mississippi River Corp. in Natchez, Miss., will provide the deinked market pulp made from sorted office paper, a Mississippi River contact said. The mill has a capacity of 400 tpd or about 144,000 tpy.

MRC's deinked pulp goes to MeadWestvaco Corp.'s 670,000-tpy virgin bleached paperboard mill in Evadale, Texas, where it is made into virgin-based paperboard with a 10% recycled content. The paperboard goes on to Solo Cup Co.'s converting plant in Chicago where it is made into cup stock and coffee cups for Starbucks, according to an MRC contact. Starbucks will use about 2,700 tons of recycled pulp each year for the 10% recycled content on the cups.

It took more than two years of testing to get the FDA approval in September. Starbucks sought the PDA's approval as a voluntary measure. PDA approval for this use of recycled material in cups that come in direct contact with food was not required. Starbucks suppliers will have to do their own testing to make sure the recycled content will hold up as well as the current, non-recycled cups.

"Beginning to use postconsumer recycled-content hot beverage cups is an important milestone for Starbucks in addressing the environmental impact associated with our paper-buying practices," said Starbucks CEO-designate Jim Donald, in a release. "Starbucks' goal is to convert hot cups in our U.S. company-operated retail stores by the end of calendar 2005. We will continue to explore ways to include recycled content in all Starbucks-branded paper goods in our stores."