Recyclable Paper Cups

Can you compost paper cups? The reply is yes, no and depends.

I emailed a lot of businesses that produce paper cups and asked them if their cups contained a plastic liner, and if so, what kind was utilized.

Except for Solo and Chinet, all the other companies got back to me (although Dart and Solo appear to be part of the same conglomerate, and Dart replied). I couldn’t tell if the client service everyone was weirded out by my questions… am I the only person asking this? Probably near it, but hopefully not the only one.

My research into Solo was definitely probably the most peculiar. I needed not a clue there was clearly a (terrible) song focused on red solo cups, then within that song proclaiming that “within 14 years they may be decomposable”… come on Toby- plastic doesn’t decompose, it simply breaks into smaller pieces for that fish to consume. Going further, there’s a Facebook fan page sporting over 45,000 likes… for red solo cups.

Anyway, Solo has an “eco forward” product line called Bare. Rejoice. This cup works with a whopping 20% post consumer recycled plastic in their plastic cups. I had been hoping their eco line would have either cups made from PLA or paper cups with a soybean wax liner, however i guess you can’t get it all. Avoid this business. Could be the competition significantly better?

I’m getting in front of myself. My point for doing the study to begin with was because I didn’t recognize that virtually all paper cups use a thin plastic (polyethylene) lining within them, which is to maintain the cup from falling apart (think coffee). Surprisingly, even a great deal of the “cold cups” possess a liner too.

I am aware from experience that it’s difficult to utilize a bioplastic cup with hot liquid within it… the cup falls apart pretty quickly. However I also realize that it’s possible to utilize a paper cup having a PLA (polylactic acid, a compostable plastic) liner with good results. How about a doubly thick paper cup with wax?

Exactly what is the best answer if you need to utilize a paper cup? Paper cups can go in the compost pile no problem, just don’t expect these to appear for a while, and they’ll remind you that you put them in there by leaving behind a plastic skeleton. Fat chance this is recycled, but it’s very easy to pull these out of finished compost and place them in the blue bin.

Another choice is to “recycle” the paper cup, that is commonly done than composting. In recycled paper processing mills, the slurry coming from a pulper is screened to remove plastic, ink, clay, dirt, metals, etc from your paper. Therefore, the cup’s plastic liner is regarded as a contaminant. What happens for this sludge from this point?

Any better ideas? The coolest example I’ve ever seen showed itself once i went on vacation to Panama recently. I received a paper coffee cup using a fold-out handle which means you don’t burn the hands, while eliminating the need for the cardboard sleeve.

I would like to learn more about this design, and then wonder why I don’t see these more often. Maybe they’re a little more tedious to manufacture… who knows? I believe this idea is getting somewhere, though. The true victory would be if this type of cup didn’t use a plastic liner. I must discover.

What exactly are others doing? The plethora of answers went from mostly plastic liner, PLA liner, or wax lining (only in cold cups). Another company uses sugar cane bagasse, and making use of this procedure extraction material for paper products rather than burning it for fuel is really a better use.

Overall, 6 out of 8 major paper cup manufacturers had a compostable liner option available, so it would be reasonable to assume which a demand has arisen for such a product.

The drawback is that they’re more expensive, and odds are slim that they will biodegrade properly in a home composting setup, unless you do have a sustained hot pile going. This reminds me in the Sun Chips bag dilemma… technically kurifp , however, not likely to happen for the majority of of us.

I’m still keen on the wax lining, although wax also takes forever to get rid of down and it is usually paraffin, which hails from petroleum, which may bother some home composters. Any cups using a soybean wax liner available out there? This is probably not the best question to get asking. Returning to the boring basics- use your own cup as often as possible in order to avoid sending those plastic skeletons towards the landfill/oceans.

Compostable Paper Cups..

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