Category Archives: general

Plastics and Outdoor Events / Festivals

Econ Pint RangeThe use of plastics at event sites has come under scrutiny in the past couple of years due to the increased focus on sustainability and other environmental concerns.

Traditionally any outdoor event of reasonable size / volume would use low cost disposable plastic glasses. These are great for single use due to their thin plastic and low cost per unit, however some event sites or councils have sought to discourage the use of these glasses. There are various mandates in place, although this depends on the specific area.

The most basic requirement is that there must be a system in place to effectively collect the waste and process the plastics used for recycling. This makes absolute sense and really should be done regardless. The most commonly use vacuum formed polypropylene glasses are very easily recycled by any plastic processing facility, this just need the correct sortation and collection.

2 Pint Katerglass2Another restriction we’ve come across is a stipulation that all disposables used must be biodegradable. This makes the choice of plastics slightly more difficult as the usual polypropylene glasses are not biodegradable. Instead we offer biodegradable plastic glasses made from cPLA / cornstarch which will degrade naturally. Another alternative is to use biodegradable paper products where appropriate. The obvious downside of this stipulation is that the unit costs are noticeably higher than regular single-use disposables, a cost that may well end up being felt by the event attendees.

The most severe restriction is when an event site has a blanket ban on any disposable items, this means even biodegradable products cannot be used and the organisers will need to be more inventive in order to offer drinks to customers. We’ve got a wide range of reusable plastic glasses which are ideal for this purpose; these come in all shapes and sizes. The cost per unit is much higher on these items so it will be necessary to ensure the glasses are returned for reuse, normally through a deposit system that ensures customers can’t walk away with the glass without a surcharge. It’s also possible to use this as an opportunity to add value to your product, perhaps using branded glasses or a more attractive vessel than the usual tumbler style.

If you encounter any of these restrictions our experienced team can help you find a solution that works, simply get in touch.

Coffee market growth despite increased focus on sustainability

mixed groupAny industry that uses or depends on disposables will have experienced a turbulent couple of years, mainly following the huge global focus on sustainability and single use plastics / disposables etc.  A lot of media attention has centered around franchised coffee chains as they’re a very visible user of disposable products, namely disposable paper coffee cups.

Various coffee chains, such as Boston Tea Party for example, have sought to ban single use paper cups from their business entirely. Others have vouched to replace traditional plastic lined paper cups with biodegradable or compostable options in order to tick that all-important environmentally aware box. We’ve also seen the rise of schemes designed to recycle the plastic lined paper cups using a specific process to separate the plastic content first.

Initially there was a lot of skepticism of such schemes, especially in relation to how they’d affect the core business, and in turn, profitability. In reality however the takeaway coffee industry has continued to flourish and indeed grow. The UK market has doubled in size (£bn) between 2010 and 2018 and is forcasted to grow at an average of 6.8% per annum for next 6 years.

Some industry leaders have actually commented on how aligning themselves with current environmental concerns and trends has actually been instrumental to their growth. Quite the opposite of what analysts originally predicted. Commercial valuations specialists Christie & Co recently published an interesting roundup of opinions of their blog at: https://www.christie.com/news-resources/blogs/june-2019/propel-coffee-conference-2019-highlights-innovatio/?viewmode=0

UK consumers drink 3.3kg of coffee per head / per year (2015), however this is still behind USA and developed European competitors (4.5 – 6.5kg). Market trends and buying patterns suggest that the coffee to go market will continue to grow, and that it will simply learn to adapt in terms of reliance on disposables. This will be either through new compostable coatings or better collection, sortation and recycling facilities.

 

What size paper cups do I need?

This is a very common question from private customers, but often from coffee shop / cart owners on occasions too. We stock a huge range of different paper cup types, these then come in a wide range of sizes. We realise this can be a somewhat bewildering range for the casual customer so we’ve put together a bit of a guide to help you make your choice.

The most common sizes are 8oz and 12oz, most customers will end up purchasing one of these sizes as they represent a small or regular serving of coffee. We have other more specialised sizes too though which might also be suitable.

4oz paper cups: these are sometimes mistaken for “the smallest size takeaway coffee cup”, purchased in error when an 8oz cup was actually required. A 4oz cup is an espresso shot only; you’d never serve a tea or regular coffee in this size. It’s also extremely popular with companies serving samples of their products.

6oz paper cups: generally these are purchased for serving the increasingly popular “flat white”. Some more specialised artisan coffee houses have also taken to using this size in place of the 8oz cup too.

8oz paper cups: the go-to size for a lot of customers, it’s generally classed as either a “small” or a “regular” in the coffee to go world.

10oz paper cups: designed specifically to fit under the nozzle of automatic coffee machines, these hold 10oz comfortably with the max capacity being a shade under 12oz. This is a common size of a medium / regular takeaway coffee.

12oz paper cups: normally considered a medium size and traditionally the most popular. It’s a versatile size that can be used for lots of different beverages, to reduce the number of cup sizes stocked some coffee chains will serve small / regular and medium servings in this size of cup.

16oz paper cups: the largest mainstream cup size you’ll encounter, it has the same diameter as a 12oz cup, it’s just quite a bit taller. Generally a coffee chain will use fewer of these than the more common 8 or 12oz sizes.

You can see our full range of cups on the paper coffee cups page: https://innsupplies.com/disposable/paper-cups

Dimensions and sizes

4oz paper cups

6oz paper cups

8oz paper cups

10oz paper cups

12oz paper cups

16oz paper cups

4oz

62mm rim
60mm tall

6oz

70mm rim
75mm tall

8oz

80mm rim
90mm tall

10oz

90mm rim
94mm tall

12oz

90mm rim
110mm tall

16oz

90mm rim
137mm tall

 

 

Can I recycle paper cups?

crushed-cupsThis has been a popular question as of late, with a hugely increased focus on environmental responsibility companies and private individuals using disposables now looking at their usage with sustainability in mind.

Before tackling the topic of recycling it’s important to note the different types of paper cups commonly in circulation:

  • Paper cups with PE (polyethylene) lining
  • Paper cups with PLA (cornstarch) lining
  • Bamboo cups with PLA (cornstarch) lining

It’s a common misconception that paper cups with a lining cannot be recycled; in fact this is completely untrue. Paper cups cannot simply be put in your regular household paper recycling stream as the lining is classed as a contaminant; however there are other ways of recycling the paperboard used in these cups.

All cups need some sort of lining, without this they will leak. We’re often asked why cup manufacturers don’t just remove the plastic lining. It’s there for a reason; it keeps your coffee in your cup!

To be recycled correctly paper cups either need to be “cut” or mixed with a pure source of paper recycling (newspaper for example) or sent to a specialised facility that has a process to separate the lining from the cup before recycling the paper part. Both of these methods are good alternatives to the recycling issue. When mixing the paper cup waste with a pure form of paper recycling, the plant is simply managing the contamination level to keep it within tolerance. A certain percentage of contamination is acceptable and still results in usable paper pulp. Separating the lining from the cup is the other option, if there’s a facility for this method available in your area then this will enable cups to be directly recycled – however this is very area dependent.

Looking to have your cups recycled? There are various schemes that we support which can assist with this, for example:

  • Save a cup can arrange collections of your cups if the volume of use is sufficient, they will then process the waste using a suitable facility: http://www.save-a-cup.co.uk/.
  • Simply cups offer a wealth of advice on cup recycling and also offer a “post back” service when you can send your cups for recycling: https://simplycups.co.uk/

Bamboo cups are a newer type of cup that doesn’t rely on traditional paperboard, as the name suggests they’re made from fast growing sustainable Bamboo grass. This is not suitable for recycling at present, but these cups are designed to be sent to commercial composting facilities where they’re processed and completely break down to mulch.

We recommend checking with your local council and asking what recycling and processing facilities are available in your area. Some councils have processing facilities dedicated to paper cups and are able to recycle or process them directly. As this is done on a per-council basis customers need to check what facilities are available in their area – it may well be that your local council has a regular collection that’s compatible with paper cups, or a collection centre.

You can find our full range of paper cups at: https://innsupplies.com/disposable/paper-cups

Disposable Paper Straws

black-paper-straws-webBy popular demand we’ve introduced a new line of paper straws to supplement our existing range of disposable plastic straws. Due to ever shifting consumer requirements, paper straws have seen a huge surge in popularity through 2018; with many pubs, bars and clubs replacing their usual plastic straws.

Our disposable paper straws are 100% biodegradable, there’s no plastic coating either which means they can be easily recycled with your usual paper waste.

Initially we’re offering the plain black paper straws, although a range of colours and other designs will follow.

Our paper straws have a thick premium feel with a semi matt finish – great for use at bars that prefer not to use disposable plastics.

Samples of these are available on request. You can find these paper straws on our website at: https://innsupplies.com/black-paper-straws-biodegradable-compostable.html

World Oceans Day

world oceans day 2world oceans day 1As part of World Oceans Day, numerous companies and organisations have used their media influence to raise awareness about the damage we’re doing to our ecosystem and oceans.

The display in these images (spotted locally) was organised by Corona, it is a visual depiction of the average quantity of waste found over a 2 mile stretch of beach in the UK. As you can see, much of this waste is plastic based which can be hugely harmful to wildlife.

As an ethical supplier of catering disposables, much of which is plastic based, we’re always very keen to promote the sustainable usage and correct disposal of our products. We supply large quantities of plastic glasses for events all over the UK; the vast majority of our items are either recyclable or biodegradable.  Any large consumers of disposable items should always have a plan in mind to manage their waste; normally this would involve collecting the used glasses and sorting for recycling. There’s no need for items of this nature to be disposed of with regular waste and sent to landfill. We certainly don’t want to see products dumped into the oceans where they take hundreds of years to break down.

Whether you’re catering a small private party, or a large festival for hundreds of thousands of guests – we’re always happy to advise on the most ethical ways to dispose and manage any waste created. The most effective way to do your part for the oceans is to ensure your waste doesn’t end up there in the future.

World Oceans Day: http://www.worldoceansday.org/

Recycled Plastics?

500ml-plastic-water-bottle-500x500A common theme in 2018 so far seems to revolve around eliminating our dependency on single use disposables and plastics.  Often this seems to be done at a policy maker’s level without enough thought as to the implementation.

We’ve written several articles promoting the benefits of correct sortation and recycling of disposables. Rather than the blanket “ban x product from the shelf” style statements that seem so commonplace, we could drastically reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfill by simply improving sortation and recycling facilities to allow the waste to be processed.

It’s true that our reliance on disposables can be reduced to some extent, but there will always be a demand for the items (hygiene grounds within the NHS for example). Nearly all plastics are easily processed if sent to the correct facility without contamination.

Evian is an example of a company investing in better recycling facilities and looking to promote a more sustainable use of plastics, bottles in this instance. Their aim is for all plastic bottles to be made from recycled plastics by 2020. Evian is working with governments and waste processors to secure a sufficient supply of recycled plastics to accomplish this. More details at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/sponsor-content-changing-the-way-we-think-about-plastics/

Hopefully other similar companies will follow suit and get behind plastic recycling schemes.

Recycled plastics used to make “plastic roads”?

thisroadismadefromwasteplasticsWith all the negativity circulating regarding the country’s failure to correctly sort, process and recycle plastic waste, it’s good to see some progress and innovation in the recycling world. It’s no secret that plastic waste (especially from food packaging, plastic cups, bottles etc) is a huge issue worldwide. These plastics are commonly not recycled and end up in landfill; they will then often take hundreds of years to break down.

In 2015 a scheme was trialled where plastic waste was used instead of crude oil to form the bitumen used for paving roads (see https://newatlas.com/vancouver-recycled-plastic-warm-mix-asphalt/25254/). There are numerous benefits to repurposing plastic waste in this manner, not least of which is the potential to vastly reduce plastic waste sent to landfill. Other benefits of this scheme include:

  • Reduced pollution; where plastics would have been potentially been incinerated.
  • Ease of recycling; bitumen can be made from Thermosets, Elastomers and Thermoplastics meaning reduced reliance on complex sorting.
  • Less dependence on crude oil traditionally used in road construction.
  • Plastics can be used to create a more flexible and hard-wearing surface, resistant to breakage and temperature related damage.

In Vancouver there is already widespread use of this process (https://thinkprogress.org/netherlands-company-introduces-plastic-roads-that-are-more-durable-climate-friendly-than-asphalt-ecb7c2a11a50/), even to the extent that modular premade blocks are used.

The only barrier to using waste plastics in this manner is the current lack of scalable infrastructure to collect and sort the waste plastics. With the correct investment and increase awareness of new recycling opportunities we could drastically cut the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfill.

Currently the UK seems more fixated on eliminating the usage of single-use plastics across the board, however this is a rather optimistic and short sighted goal. The simple fact of the matter is that single use plastics like plastic cups are often a necessity. Wouldn’t it be better all round to tackle the real issue here, which is the lack of correct waste collection, recycling and sortation facilities? With increased awareness, subsidies and incentives there’s enormous potential for progress.

Single-use plastic waste and the NHS

recyclebinAs you’ve no doubt noticed, disposables and single-use plastics are very much in the media spotlight at the moment. Much of this started after the airing of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 in late 2017. This highlighted the environmental impact of plastics / microplastics and waste dumping on our oceans and their associated inhabitants.

Above all the series got people thinking about where their packaging goes after disposal. The public has started to question when they choose to use disposables and ask how the material is handled after we’ve finished with it. This has in-turn put pressure on high profile volume users of disposables to look at the way they handle their disposable waste.

In the news today are the results of an investigation into plastic use within the NHS (https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-guilty-binning-staggering-120-12338192). To summarise the report, the plastic waste originating from within the NHS is being disposed of with the regular waste collection. Plastic cups and disposables have their place; in the NHS they represent a sanitary and hygienic option for patients, the issue here is the mishandling of disposable products rather than the specific use of single-use plastics.

Oil based plastics are an easily recyclable commodity, almost without exception. With simple sorting and an appropriate plastic collection the large amount of plastic cups the NHS uses (334,000 per day according to this report) would be recycled and the landfill issue avoided.

We are always keen to encourage the ethical use of disposable plastics, in fact we frequently advise customers on the matter. The media coverage this report will bring should at least be a catalyst for change within the NHS, there is little excuse for not sorting plastic waste and sending it for recycling – recycling facilities are available nationwide and collection schemes widespread.