Brand Snapshot | G.F Smith: upcycling coffee cups into beautiful paper

G.F Smith has launched a pioneering new paper that tackles the global problem of disposable coffee cups that are lined with plastic.

In the UK we use 4,861 disposable paper cups a minute. That’s over 7 million a day. Currently less than 1 in 400 are recycled.  ‘Extract’ is G.F Smith’s contribution to this challenge by taking disposable paper cups destined for landfill and transforming them into beautiful paper.

It’s partly chemistry – the polyethylene that stops the cup getting soggy makes recycling difficult, and, it takes a special process to separate the plastic from other paper waste which makes it expensive. That’s why G.F Smith has partnered with CupCycling by James Cropper to offer a solution by design.

Extract is the result of a unique collaboration between consumer, recycler and papermaker. It is a dynamic combination of chemistry and artistry that takes disposable cups and transforms them into beautiful paper. Extract is available in ten colours, all inspired and drawn directly from nature.

Using CupCycling technology 90% of the waste from each cup is converted back into FSC certified paper fibre. This means every sheet of Extract in 380gsm paper contains at least five upcycled coffee cups. The remaining 10% of waste – which is plastic – will become something else entirely. It’s a zero waste process, so the more Extract that gets used, the fewer cups go to landfill or incineration.

Recycling is just the start of reducing waste. G.F Smith’s Exact Sheet Policy means paper can be bought to the nearest single digit (as long as the order is more than 25 sheets) so only the amount needed is ordered, minimising paper waste. And Extract has been developed to work exceptionally well with the latest digital printing technology, so only the amount needed is printed, minimising ink waste.

Upcycling addresses the problem, not the cause, so the creation of this exceptional FSC certified paper is just a start to reducing plastic consumption and the impact it has on our environment. Changes in G.F Smith’s methods of production and day-to-day operations – including the installation of solar panels at their factory in Hull – are also helping to reduce their carbon footprint by more than 90 tonnes of CO2 a year.

“Extract by itself is not the solution to the world’s coffee cup problem, but it is our contribution to try and tackle a global design problem. Ultimately, smart design will create a sustainable solution to the challenge presented by coffee cups and if we’re successful we’ll be able to discontinue Extract all together. Until then, this new range is a way of meeting the challenge by creating something beautiful from nothing.”