Starting this fall, a new type of recyclable cup will help Orange Coast College fund a student scholarship.
The Costa Mesa campus is planning to roll out reCups, designed by Newport Beach-based Smart Planet Technologies, for the college's food services and catering programs. They will be available through coffee kiosks, the school cafeteria and events where campus groups have catered coffee.
Orange Coast will be the first school to use reCups on campus.
Revenue generated from selling the used cups to a recyclable-paper mill will go toward a new scholarship, preferably for a student in environmental or scientific studies, according to Mike Carey, Orange Coast's environmental sustainability coordinator.
Raising funds for the scholarship from cup recycling will be an ongoing effort, Carey said.
"Every year the cups are used, the larger the scholarship will get," he said. "We plan on continuing this as long as we are using those cups."
Carey said he was introduced to the reCup when he met with two representatives of Smart Planet Technologies in April through Carey's affiliation with the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.
ReCups are made to be easier to recycle. Unlike traditional paper cups with complete plastic coating inside – which insulates hot beverages – the reCup's Earth Coating is a mineral blended plastic made of 40% calcium carbonate and 60% low-density polyethylene.
The reCup's coating can break into small, dense particles while being recycled, making the material easier to process, according to Smart Planet, which created the Earth Coating.
A cup with a coating made completely of plastic would clog recycling equipment by breaking into flakes, said Todd Gasparik, one of the Smart Planet representatives Carey met with in April.
"Rather than trying to build an infrastructure to deal with the current materials paper cups are made of, we encourage the paper cup industry to make cups out of materials that the recycling industry considers valuable," said Gasparik, director of business development for the materials engineering company. "The Earth Coating processes through more like a mineral than a plastic."
Smart Planet, which has been operating for about seven years, was founded by Christopher Tilton and Will Lorenzi of Newport Beach. The company has been developing the reCup for about two years.