The planet is rapidly running out of resources. Most of us are now expressing concern about this and really want to do our bit to support the environment. Those who love coffee know that the best thing they could do is use a coffee cup that they can use again and again, such as a mug or a tumbler.
However, it cannot be denied that disposable coffee cups are incredibly convenient, which is why so many cafes continue to use it. Generally speaking, if you go to a coffee house, your coffee will be served to you in a disposable cup. This is particularly true because so many people take their coffee with them. Because people understand this has a significant environmental impact, a huge debate has been raging for many years about whether Styrofoam cups or paper cups are the best.
Green Disposable Cups
Many people would immediately say that paper cups are the most environmentally friendly. As it turns out, however, they are wrong. The best Styrofoam cups are the greener option because:
- Compared to Styrofoam cups, paper cups generate far more waste.
- Paper cups do not insulate well. This means that people are often unable to hold the cup if it is made from paper. As a result, it has to be put in a cardboard sleeve, thereby instantly doubling the amount of waste that is generated for each cup of coffee.
People believe that paper biodegrades very quickly, but this isn’t entirely true either. Yes, it is made from a material that is biodegradable. However, biodegradation simply doesn’t happen anymore on landfill sites, because they are designed to stop air from reaching the waste itself. Without air, it takes a very long time for paper to actually break down.
Paper also needs far more raw materials than what Styrofoam does. A study was conducted by notable Canadian scientist Martin Hocking. This found that the petroleum used to manufacture a single paper cup is as much as that of a single Styrofoam cup.
Plus, paper uses what is known as paper pulp, which means it actually uses more raw materials. What is more, the paper cups needs to be printed, requiring even more raw materials. It is also for this reason that paper cups are generally more expensive.
When more raw materials are used, it means more resources are depleted and more energy is used. Hence, production of paper cups uses 300x more volume of waste water, 20x more electricity and 10x more steam than what a Styrofoam cup does.
And that’s not all. The waste water that is produced when making paper cups have up to 40 times as many contaminants in it than waste water that is used to make a Styrofoam cup, which is essentially plastic.
All coffee drinkers should really just bring their own cup. However, if they can’t for whatever reason, then Styrofoam is actually a much better alternative than paper, as it is more environmentally responsible.