Coffee cup recycling
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Rumpke expands recycling program to accept disposable cups

The Cincinnati-based company will accept disposable paper, plastic and aluminum cups in most of its curbside and drop-box recycling programs.

February 2, 2022

Cincinnati-based Rumpke Waste & Recycling has announced that it will begin accepting disposable paper, plastic and aluminum cups in most of its curbside and drop-box recycling programs.

According to a news release from Rumpke, the company says recent innovations in paper and plastic recycling have resulted in commitments from end users to accept and recycle more materials. The recycler says more paper mills have pledged to recycle paper cups, and advances in plastic recycling have increased the demand for additional types of plastic products.

“As a recycling leader, Rumpke is constantly working with end-users to develop solutions for expanded recycling opportunities,” says Jeff Snyder, Rumpke director of recycling. “Our commitment to our recycling operation remains a top priority.”

In 2021, Rumpke expanded its program to accept tubs made from polypropylene (PP). The company invested about $2 million to install robotics at its material recovery facility in Cincinnati to sort plastic containers from the rest of the recycling stream, particularly focused on PP scrap.

Snyder adds, “With consumer-driven demand for more environmentally friendly options, more and more companies are transitioning to polypropylene cups.”  

Rumpke says it will accept paper and plastic beverage cups from fast-food restaurants as well as plastic souvenir cups and Ball brand aluminum cups. The company says paper cups processed at its recycling facilities will be made into cardboard and paperboard products, plastic cups will be used to make new plastic containers and aluminum cups will be used to make aluminum cans.

Additional guidelines for the company’s expanded program include:

  • plastic lids should be reattached to plastic cups;
  • plastic lids from paper cups should be removed and discarded;
  • straws and stoppers are not accepted;
  • Solo-brand cups are not accepted because they are made of polystyrene ,and the company does not have a secure, long-term end-user for that material;
  • ceramic and glass cups are not accepted;
  • K-cups are not accepted;
  • paper cups are not accepted in Northeast Ohio where Rumpke partners with a third-party processor to process materials; and
  • no cups will be accepted in central Kentucky where Rumpke partners with Kentucky-based Lexington's Recycle Center to process materials.

Other items currently accepted in Rumpke’s program include plastic bottles, jugs, tubs, cartons, glass bottles, glass jars, aluminum cans, steel cans, paper, paperboard and cardboard.