Efforts to recycle paper cups, which have long been considered unrecyclable, are gaining momentum in Japan.

Paper-makers have begun to cooperate with other industries to promote the use of paper cups — typically discarded until now as flammable waste — as a recyclable resource.

"Paper cups are not known to be recyclable, unlike milk cartons," said Makoto Hasegawa, head of the recycling promotion office at Nippon Paper Industries.