B.C.’s first coffee cup recycling initiative in commercial buildings launched in Vancouver

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      A new initiative to recycle coffee cups in commercial and public buildings in B.C. has begun.

      The program started in early February with locations in Vancouver.

      According to a report by Paul Henderson, general manager of solid waste services with Metro Vancouver, the regional district is working with partners in this initiative.

      These partners are Encorp Pacific, popularly known as the recycling nonprofit Return-It, Tim Hortons, and A&W Canada.

      “Materials including coffee cups, lids and sleeves collected during the pilot will be used to test and develop recycling solutions and end markets, encourage public participation and determine the viability of a broader, permanent program,” Henderson wrote in his report.

      The report is included in the agenda Friday (February 14) of Metro Vancouver’s zero waste committee.

      “Single-use coffee cups are accepted in the residential recycling programs operated by Recycle BC, but this pilot will be the first test of a comparable program for businesses,” according to Henderson.

      On its website, Encorp describes the initiative as a first in B.C.

      Collection bins are found at 701 West Georgia Street (Pacific Centre), 777 Hornby Street, 300 West Georgia (Library Square), and 401 Burrard Street.

      “We are looking to learn and identify a recycling solution for coffee cups consumed in the commercial and public sectors,” Encorp explains.

      Encorp also notes that hot beverage cups are “challenging to recycle because they come in a number of different material streams and have a polyethylene coating on the inside to keep liquids from soaking through the paper”.

      “These attributes require special processes for separating the paper fibres so they can be used to make new products,” the recycling organization explains.

      In addition, “lids, sleeves are recyclable and there are markets for these materials when sorted separately but there are other potential contaminants like stir sticks, tea bags and napkins which are generally disposed of with the cup and need to be removed before the cups can be recycled”.

      The pilot will run for six months.