Alpine waste
Sustana is finally proving that coffee cup recycling is possible
Jay Hunsberger
September 26, 2018

Sustana partners with Alpine Waste & Recycling to recover items from trash


Tens of billions of single-use coffee cups, many of which could have been recycled, end up in landfills each year in the United States. This is largely because collection and sorting systems that allow the cups to be separated from other waste don’t exist, and because of technical difficulties processing cups at many recycling facilities.

Sustana however, has continuously invested in resources to recycle coffee cups at scale, proving that the wide-scale recycling of single-use coffee cups is possible.

Sustana has officially confirmed its plan to move forward with Alpine Waste & Recycling, the undisputed leader in Colorado recycling innovations, to separate thousands of coffee cups in the city of Denver from the local trash stream.

In conjunction with the Foodservice Packaging Institute and FPI’s Community Partnership program, Alpine recently agreed to an arrangement that will allow all environmentally conscious coffee shop patrons to begin tossing their empty cups into the recycling bin, assuming the coffee shop has a pick-up arrangement with Alpine.

Until now, the complex material of the standard coffee cup made the cups difficult, if not impossible, to recycle in an economically feasible manner. Alpine executives decided a year ago that they wanted to be first to break the coffee cup recycling barrier in Denver.

Sustana Vice-President of North American Sales Jay Hunsberger said his company is ready to begin processing the coffee cups as soon as Alpine can collect its first truckload, possibly as soon as next month.

“We are pleased to be a part of an important partnership to enable used cup collection, one of the main impediments to cup recycling. Because of our state-of-the-art equipment, we look forward to our ability to continue with these kinds of breakthrough partnerships,” Hunsberger said.

Alpine previously led the way in the recycling of other, equally difficult materials such as juice cartons, Styrofoam and rigid plastics and was also the first to use a robot to help with separation of recycling materials; and that robot will be instrumental in the recycling of coffee cups.

“We take great pride in the innovations we have brought to the industry,” said Alpine founder John Griffith. “We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to make these kinds of advancements.”

Studies in recent years have indicated to Alpine that the recycling plant might receive as many as five tons of coffee cups per month at the start of the program, depending in large part upon consumer awareness and willingness to participate.