320,000 coffee to go cups are used every hour in Germany (according to Deutsche Umwelthilfe DUH). This are 3 Billions cups per year. A big challenge. According to DUH, the disposable cups are also predominantly made of paper fibers, for which new material and no recycled paper can be used. Moreover, because the cups are not only made of paper but also of plastic, the cups are difficult to recycle.
The start-up company Carbogenics (UK), which grew out of a research project at the University of Edinburgh, has come up with an genius idea. They use pyrolysis (carbonization process / charring) to recycle these cups into biochar. The clean biochar (it doesn’t contain plastic anymore) can then be used again in agriculture as a soil conditioner or to improve the biogas process. In addition: During carbonization a large part of the carbon contained in the biochar is stably stored. If the biochar of paper cups is after that applied into the soil, the carbon is extracted from the atmosphere for centuries (active CO2 reduction).
(photo © weixx – fotolia.com)