Foam vs. Paper: The Cup Dilemma

Clearly the best thing is not to create garbage and instead reuse a ceramic or other permanent coffee mug when you have a coffee. However, this is not always possible so the question is which disposable cup is the least harmful to the environment? We often get requestes for paper coffee cups because people think that they are recyclable and biodegradable and thus more environmentally friendly. Counterintuitively, it seems that styrofoam cups are the lesser of the two disposable evils! Take a look at the links below for details.

Excerpt: "The reality is that single-use paperboard food service products are not recycled because most paper food service products are made from multiple materials. Most of these products are coated with polyethylene plastic or wax that enable them to safely hold foods and liquids, but makes them difficult and very expensive to recycle."

"The fact that single-use paperboard products will not be recycled means that they will be landfilled or incinerated, which works against efforts to minimize waste."

"In addition, when considering the biodegradability and compostability of these products, because of the plastic coating, single-use paperboard food service products are essentially no more degradable than polystyrene products."

Here are some links to articles on the subject that can help you make up your own mind:

http://www.ecojoes.com/styrofoam-cups-vs-paper-cups/

http://www.popfi.com/2008/02/25/coffee-drinkers-paper-cup-vs-styrofoam-cup/a>

http://media.www.brockpress.com/media/storage/paper384/news/2008/02/26/Techn ology/Capping.The.Styrofoam.Cup.Debate-3235590.shtml

http://www.dartcontainer.com/web/environ.nsf/pages/enfacts.html

For the time being, it seems the consensus is that the best bet is to use a styrofoam cup! Advantages: Less energy cost in manufacturing, less natural resources used, lower cost of transport, less toxins released to environment. Who would have guessed?