PANDA/GREENSTAR CONVERTS USED COFFEE CUPS INTO A LOW CARBON CEMENT FUEL
As Ireland’s largest waste collector and recycler, every year we responsibly manage approximately 1.5 million tonnes of Ireland’s domestic and commercial waste. We are passionate about recycling and sustainability; as our tag line goes: - We are an animal for recycling.
We refer to the Prime Time programme aired on 29th January on coffee cups and felt there was an unfair impression given that landfill is the only option for dealing with paper cups. We would like to take this opportunity to inform you about how Panda/Greenstar responsibly manages disposable coffee cups.
Coffee cups are a composite material, combining cardboard and a plastic liner and as correctly pointed out, there is currently no recycling opportunity for coffee cups in Ireland. Very often consumers do not understand that coffee cups can’t be recycled and therefore consumers dispose of coffee cups in both general waste and in recycling waste bins.
In order to maximise our recovery or recyclable materials, we mechanically and manually sort the contents of both general waste and recycling bins. When we encounter composite beverage containers in our recycling and general waste collection, we separate it from recyclable paper and cardboard and divert it into our cement fuel process line.
Cement manufacture is a highly energy intensive industry employing over 500 people in Ireland. Historically, cement plants achieved their very high production temperatures (1400 C) using only imported fossil fuels like coal. As part of our renewable energy strategy, by working closely with the cement industry, Panda/Greenstar have been able to replace imported fossil fuels like coal with a locally produced fuel, known as Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). By working closely with the cement producers we have helped them achieve up to 65% fossil fuel replacement.
SRF is made from non-recyclable materials such as coffee cups, pizza boxes, and single use food containers. Because coffee cups are made from plant material, SRF is a low carbon fuel. It is produced to exacting quality standards and its use allows cement producers to enhance their sustainability by reducing their use of fossil fuels.
Cement kilns are an ideal solution to non-recyclable combustible waste due to their very high energy efficiency, extremely high temperatures and the fact that any residual ash is converted into cement. The production of SRF allows Panda/Greenstar to divert non-recyclable materials away from landfill enhancing the sustainability of our operation, while simultaneously supporting indigenous industry, reducing carbon emissions, reducing fossil fuel usage and reducing imports.