RECYCLABLE CUPS CROSS THE FINISH LINE

RECYCLABLE CUPS CROSS THE FINISH LINE

Largest Cross Country Meet in the U.S. Recovers Paper Cups, Demonstrates that Marathons and Races Can Reduce CO2 Emissions and Waste

October 26, 2015 (New York, NY) — Global Green USA, a national environmental nonprofit organization, has successfully completed a pilot project to get recyclable paper cups used and recovered at the largest cross country meet in the United States. This demonstration can help build momentum for increased waste diversion by other running and sporting events in the region and across the country.

On a crisp autumn day in Portage, Michigan, 10,000 recyclable cups were set out for 9,000 thirsty cross-country runners as they crossed the finish line at the Portage Invite. The cups, which were developed and donated by Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) member LBP Manufacturing, replaced polystyrene foam cups that typically have been landfilled after previous events. After the runners had quenched their thirst, the cups were collected in large yellow troughs - for easy use by tired athletes - provided by local hauler Schupan Recycling, and then delivered to a mill operated by Graphic Packaging in nearby Kalamazoo. 

Recyclable cups on race day.

Recyclable cups on race day.

This cup design had passed a recyclability protocol developed by CoRR member and local university Western Michigan University (WMU), which served as a quality control test to provide Graphic Packaging staff the confidence that the cups could be expected to perform well in their linerboard mill. The cups were successfully run through the mill’s process and into the finished paper product. 

Volunteers handing out cups. 

Volunteers handing out cups. 

“It was great to see that cups can be recovered at the scale of road races.” said Matt de la Houssaye, Director of Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery.  “While more work is needed for the broader acceptance of paper food packaging, this is a key milestone on a journey, and provides a great running step forward for more work ahead.”

"Graphic Packaging is proud to have demonstrated our sustainability leadership by participating in this pilot project with Global Green USA in coordination with the local Portage Invite race,” said Mike Farrell of Graphic Packaging. “Although the results of the limited CoRR cups trial have been somewhat encouraging on a small scale from a local road race, they are not conclusive enough to meet GPI’s stringent quality criteria for our products. We require broader, more intensive testing to simulate commercial application with a tightly-controlled trial, including a higher sampling rate to confirm the quality of any tested materials.”

Runners, Coaches and Parents on Race Day. 

Runners, Coaches and Parents on Race Day. 

The parents, students, and volunteers at the event were thrilled that the Portage Invite participated in this local closed loop recycling pilot, and the event organizers plan to explore options for recovering the paper cups at future races as well. “We are very proud to have been a part of this project, and we want to continue to support the use and recovery of recyclable cups,” said Matt Swanson, the Portage Northern High School Cross Country and Track & Field Coach and one of the organizers of the race. “We want to be a model for other events and races to use recyclable packaging, and show that it can be done. It supports local jobs, it keeps our landfills from filling up with good material, and it helps keep our environment clean.”

The Finish Line! 

The Finish Line! 

These recyclable cups were made by CoRR member LBP Manufacturing, are commercially available, and designed with sustainability in mind. “We are grateful to Global Green for organizing this pilot, and we look forward to continuing to work toward getting all foodservice packaging recovered” said Thomas Fu their Vice President of Global Innovation. “Our customers want to have a positive impact on our shared environment, and we want our current and future products to be a part of reaching that goal.”

ABOUT GLOBAL GREEN USA:
Global Green USA is dedicated to helping the people, places, and the planet in need through catalytic projects, transformative policy, and cutting-edge research. Global Green USA's signature programs include greening affordable housing, schools, neighborhoods, and cities as well as rebuilding communities. For more than 6 years, Global Green has operated the Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program to pioneer waste reduction strategies in cities. For more information, visit globalgreen.org and follow us @globalgreen.

For press inquiries, please contact Matt de la Houssaye, Director, Coalition for Resource Recovery, at [email protected] or 646-664-1602.