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Coatings Coup: Compostable Cups

Monday, August 18, 2014

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A new bio-based coating by AkzoNobel has allowed the development of what the company calls the world’s first compostable paper cup for cold drinks.

AkzoNobel's new EvCote Water Barrier 3000, made from plant-based oils and recycled PET bottles, can be used to make cups that are recyclable without any modification in the current recycle stream, the Dutch paint and coatings manufacturer reports.

None of the approximately 200 billion paper cups used every year can be recycled "without incurring prohibitive costs or greatly diminishing the quality of the paper fiber," AkzoNobel reports.

Boston Marathon trash
Lindsey Hoshaw

Runners' drink cups pile up at one of 15 water stops at the Boston Marathon. About 200 billion paper cups each year are used and discarded.

When paper is coated with EvCote, however, "the quality of the paper fiber remains intact," allowing reuse of the paper in other paper products, according to the company.

Stronger than Original

In fact, the EvCote coating actually strengthens the paper fibers, allowing paper produced from the waste to "achieve higher strength than the original uncoated paper," the company says.

EvCote Barrier Coatings are produced by AkzoNobel's Paper Coatings division, part of its Packaging Coatings business. Made of up to 95 percent sustainable or renewable content, EvCote barrier coatings protect paper surfaces against water, grease and moisture.

The coatings can be used in numerous applications, including corrugated packaging, folding carton board, beverage carrier board and food service packaging, the manufacturer says.

Human Cities

Philosophically, the new coating fits the mission of AkzoNobel's "Human Cities" initiative, which aims to create more "human" urban environments worldwide.

Compostable Drink Cup
AkzoNobel

The coating allows paper mills to recapture 100 percent of the paper waste from the production process that is currently sent to landfill, according to AkzoNobel.

"This is an industry-changing innovation which could have a significant impact in terms of providing economic and environmental benefits along the value chain," said Conrad Keijzer, AkzoNobel's Executive Committee member responsible for Performance Coatings.

"The new coatings technology will help restaurant owners and cup producers to reduce their waste."

Saving Paper, Transforming Production

The coating also allows paper mills to recapture 100 percent of the paper waste from the production process that is currently sent to landfill—a volume of paper that could wrap the Empire State Building 6,300 times, according to AkzoNobel.

EvCote Barrier Paper Coatings
AkzoNobel

EvCote coatings are produced by AkzoNobel's Paper Coatings division, part of its Packaging Coatings business. The products contain up to 95 percent sustainable or renewable content.

"The cost of paper represents the highest single cost for cup makers, so recycling the industrial scrap means that there are both cost and environmental benefits," said Gil Sherman, Market Development Manager of AkzoNobel's Paper Coatings business.

"With the growth of bio-PET, EvCote provides us with options to completely disconnect from the petrol supply chain, because now we can offer our customers a replacement for petroleum-based PE films."

The company expects the new coating "to prompt a major transformation in paper cup production, much like the move from wax to the current polyethylene process around 40 years ago," said AB Ghosh, Managing Director, Industrial Coatings.  

   

Tagged categories: AkzoNobel; Coating chemistry; Industrial design; Pulp and Paper Plants; Research

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