South Africa’s coffee industry has been steadily percolating in the past decade. According to a report by ResearchandMarkets.com, the local market has seen significant year-on-year growth despite the challenges of the pandemic, with even greater industry growth forecast for the future.
Along with the increased popularity of coffee culture in South Africa comes the increased demand for disposable takeaway coffee packaging – as well as the increased amount of disposable coffee cups and polystyrene lids entering the waste stream.
That’s why Detpak is introducing our newest innovative paper product: the Detpak paper lid. Driven by our philosophy of ‘Responsible by Design’, the Detpak paper lid is the latest addition in our line of leading paper products, produced using the same paper that coffee cups are typically made from, with a thin polymer lamination that allows the packaging to safely hold liquid. Switching to this lid results in a 83% single-use plastic reduction per take-away coffee.*
Designing the Detpak paper lid
At Detpak, our approach to the environment is all-encompassing – from the way we design products, to the materials we use, and the methods we use to manufacture them. Our approach to designing this new product was in-depth and collaborative, and we took an active role in product testing, both in-house and in the market, to understand how these findings would translate to important environmental claims.
We collaborated with waste experts, such as Mpact Recycling, to understand the real world recycling challenges that needed to be overcome, and to assess the viability of various packaging compositions (such as shape, inks, colours, substrates) which may influence the recyclability of the product on a range of scales.
We also collaborated with design and marketing college, Vega School, in Bordeaux, Johannesburg, where the concept was tested with over 300 design students and well received at its launch.
Detpak is always striving to be at the forefront of innovation, and as part of this process, we’re continuously assessing technologies to validate their quality, functionality, and impact on the environment. In the process of designing our paper lid, we were proactive in designing our low-value material components to maximise the potential of recovery back into the economy – and out of the environment.
The benefits of paper product recycling
Currently, most countries use the linear model of waste disposal, giving products only one life before they are sent to a landfill. Moving to a circular economy involves investigating recyclability as part of the design process.
Paper products are ideal for this mission, as they offer strong, renewable fibres that can be recycled up to seven times. Paper recycling avoids the material, energy and labour of manufacturing new paper products or components, and the recovery of paper packaging via recycling is imperative for a circular economy to operate. In fact, according to RecyclePaperZA, 'recovered paper saved 3.6 million cubic metres of landfill space in 2019'.
In the process of designing the paper lid, one of our key considerations was how the product would travel through the waste stream. In the recycling process, waste is sorted by type in order to be routed to the different recyclers. Typically, this means that a standard coffee cup and lid combo would need to be manually separated in the sorting process to go their different waste routes – the cup into the liquid packaging paper waste stream and the lid into another waste stream. The Detpak paper lid simplifies this process, as the full unit can be routed to the liquid packaging waste paper stream.
In South Africa, Liquid Packaging (LP) waste classification is a relatively new waste stream. The Mpact investment of the LP plant in Springs has really opened the opportunity for large-scale post-consumer coffee cups to live again.
The Detpak paper lid is the newest in our line of ‘Responsible by Design’ products, designed not only to allow brands to move towards their sustainability targets, but also to streamline the paper recycling process in South Africa, furthering our circular product design mission.
For more information, visit https://www.detpak.co.za/
*Standard polystyrene lid x 1000 = 2.8kg, PE weight of paper lid x 1000 = 0.47kg.