Diverting single-use paper cups from landfill


Planet Ark endorses the RecycleMe™ cup collection and recycling system as a great way to reduce waste from single-use takeaway cups and their plastic lids. 

At Planet Ark, we follow the waste hierarchy (reduce and reuse before recycle). That’s why we encourage the use of reusable cups or simply drinking your coffee in the café before choosing a takeaway cup. We do, however, recognise that takeaway cups will be still be used and that there is significant confusion about whether these cups and their lids are recyclable through existing waste collection services. Therefore, a practical option is to provide a system for collection and recycling of takeaway cups and lids. Detpak’s RecycleMe™ cup is a system that provides the opportunity to significantly reduce the number of cups and lids destined for landfill. 

RecycleMe coffee cup

What is RecycleMe™? 

The award-winning RecycleMe™ coffee cup collection and recycling system1 offers an end-to-end environmental solution for both the cup and the lid that guarantees every cup and lid collected will be recycled into new products. More than a million RecycleMe™ coffee cups have already been collected for recycling. 

Currently, coffee cups are not accepted for recycling in Australia and are sent to landfill. With industry estimates of one billion disposable coffee cups being sent to landfill or littered each year, Detpak took on the challenge of creating a coffee cup that can be recycled using existing infrastructure. Due to its special lining, RecycleMe™ cups can be processed using the current recycling infrastructure when they are collected through the RecycleMe™ recycling system. 

For users that have a high turnover of coffee cups, such as restaurants, university campuses or hospitals, dedicated collection bins designed to keep the cups dry are placed within the building for customers to return their cups and lids to. Back-of-house collection bins are also available for consolidation of the cups and lids. The system is rolled out with a supporting education resource for customers and staff to ensure consumers understand that the cup must be disposed of in a dedicated RecycleMe™ collection bin to guarantee it is recycled.  

Detpak’s RecycleMe™ is backed Shred-X to offer ongoing distribution as well as collection of the cups. Shred-X already has more than 50,000 collection locations across Australia.

RecycleMe™ also offers a return mail bag system for users with a smaller turnover of cups, such as coffee kiosks, offices and schools. For a flat fee, the collection bags can be dropped off at any of Parcelpoint’s 1,400 locations across Australia. Alternatively, the user can have the bag picked up directly through a courier service. 

Planet Ark endorsement of RecycleMe™ 

Planet Ark recognises that this program is still in the initial rollout phase and that further development is required to maximise the value of its output streams. Endorsement of the program requires that these options are established and that the best value outcomes for the materials are achieved in line with the waste hierarchy, along with a zero waste to landfill target.

Fibre from the paper cups is to be recovered through a recycling/de-inking process and used as a high-grade input in products such as copy paper or toilet tissue. Polystyrene from the lids is to be recovered and used within recycled products, initially with options developed in overseas markets but latterly within Australia as its circular economy develops.

Where can I buy or use RecycleMe™? 

If you’re representing a business or organisation that is interested in using the RecycleMe™ recycling system, contact Detpak directly.  

If you would like to see RecycleMe™ in action, visit the locations map to find your nearest collection point. 

1The RecycleMe System was recognised with the 2018 Sustainable Packaging Excellence Award by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

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