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The self-separating cup

An innovative development from Greiner Packaging is set to revolutionise the recyclability of cardboard plastic combinations. Making sure that waste was sorted correctly used to be fully reliant on consumers playing their part. But now with K3 r100, the cardboard wrap and the plastic cup separate all by themselves on the way to the recycling facility. This makes the packaging solution ideal for recycling.

Cardboard-plastic combinations have a number of positive attributes when it comes to sustainability. The cardboard wrap, which can be made from recycled material, lends sturdiness to the plastic cup so that it can be produced with particularly thin walls. This wrap is especially easy to detach from the cup thanks to an innovative tear off system, with the two components then disposed of separately and recycled. Since the white or transparent plastic cup is unprinted, it can be recycled very effectively. In addition, the carbon footprint of K3 cups is significantly smaller than that of alternative packaging solutions. ‘Cardboard-plastic combinations are a fully sustainable solution,’ emphasised Jens Krause, sales director and K3 product category manager at Greiner Packaging. ‘But there is one challenge – separating the cardboard wrap from the plastic cup currently requires action by consumers. If they separate the cardboard wrap from the plastic cup when discarding the used packaging, the cup will perform very well in the recycling process. But if they don’t do that – which is still the case for most consumers – the components will not always be correctly identified in the sorting system, making it difficult to correctly recycle the K3 packaging. As a result, the cups are currently quite difficult to recycle properly in some countries.’

In developing the solutions, Greiner Packaging has created a solution in which the cardboard wrap separates itself from the plastic cup during the waste collection process ie before the packaging arrives at the NIR (near infrared) detection in the sorting unit. This innovative development makes the cups substantially easier to recycle, with the cardboard and plastic assigned to the correct material streams during the initial sorting process before being recycled.

Cyclos-HTP has given K3 r100 (with a standard aluminium lid) a recyclability rating of higher than 90%. RecyClass has also issued its best rating (Class A).

‘In developing K3 r100, we have made a major breakthrough. That being said, of course, the best case scenario is still for the consumer to separate the cardboard wrap from the plastic cup before disposing of the parts properly,’ Jens stressed. For this reason, the cup still features the innovative tear off solution, which makes separating the plastic and cardboard easier and more intuitive. This means that environmentally conscious consumers can play it safe when it comes to recycling. Plus, the rear side of the cardboard wrap is the perfect place to provide more information and engage with consumers.

K3 r100 will come onto the market this autumn.

Greiner Packaging -

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