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  • 2019PipCatchpoleMSc

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Product development of fully recyclable single-use coffee cups

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Publication date2020
Number of pages87
QualificationMasters by Research
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Centre for Global Eco-Innovation
  • Printed Cup Company
  • European Regional Development Fund
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Disposable cups are typically made from PE-lined paper. They are recyclable at specialist sites where their components are separated, however the cups must be isolated from all other waste prior to collection by recycling companies. PE is obtained from fossil fuels, although it can be acquired from crops such as sugarcane. To derive PE solely from crops, a lot of land would be needed to grow them, which is unrealistic. Regardless of the source, PE is non-biodegradable. This project aimed to develop a polymer that is from a renewable source, biodegradable, and/or easier to recycle. PLA and PHB were investigated as copolymers of varying compositions for their suitability to line cups. The 8 copolymers made all had melting points and thermal degradation temperatures significantly higher than the boiling point of water. All the copolymers were all melted onto uncoated cup paper and some tests were performed to assess their water permeability. The polymers with a higher percentage of BL in their composition (75% or higher) demonstrated better water resistance, when exposed to room temperature DI. Further testing is required using hot water.