The Solo red cup. You’ve sipped from it at fine events, drank from it at backyard barbecues and probably guzzled from it in your college days, but the number 6 polystyrene plastic is often hard to recycle in many U.S. communities.
On Thursday, at the Keep America Beautiful Great American Clean Up event in New York City , Solo Cup Co. and TerraCycle announced that they have banned together to create the Solo Cup Brigade, a disposal solution for the millions of single-use cups sold each year.
The idea is simple. Individuals, schools, offices, nonprofits – anyone really – signs up on the TerraCycle website. You collect Solo plastic cups and return them to TerraCycle, which will recycle the material into playground equipment, park benches and outdoor furniture.
For every cup received, Solo will donate two cents to Keep America Beautiful or the member’s charity of choice. Solo also picks up the shipping costs that are associated with sending the collected cups to TerraCycle.
“This is a terrific new partnership that creates a whole new recycling program for plastic cups,” says Kim Frankovich, Vice President of Sustainability for Solo.
While the recycling messaging will be on the Solo Squared cups, which have replaced most of the iconic red cups on store shelves, the Cup Brigade is open to all Solo brand plastic cups.
Solo has been a leader in single-use tableware for decades, and their sustainability stance is wider in scope than just their partnership with TerraCycle.
“We use many materials that have recycled content, or are compostable or renewable,” says Frankovich. Solo also participates in zero-waste programs, looks at ways to reduce carbon emissions and takes part in many community events through their sponsorship with Keep America Beautiful.
“People should participate [in the Cup Brigade] because they’re creating a recycling solution for our plastic cups as well as giving two cents to deserving nonprofits. They’re also helping to create new plastic products,” Frankovich says.