Every year in UK alone, billions of paper cups are trashed, they are takeaway cups and are supposed to be trashed. But, everyone of us who care, carry the burden of guilt of these billions of cups, since we know these cups are not 100% biodegradable and are not very easy to recycle either. This is majorly because to prevent leaking and getting soggy, paper cups are lined with a thin coat of the common plastic or polyethylene ( PE ).
Polyethylene is otherwise safe for humans, is heat resistant and doesn't harm us in any way, but it's presence in cups make the cup's natural chance of bio degradation slightly difficult or at least lengthens the time required.
Although the cups we produce are as we mention always, are 99% biodegradable, but as a responsible manufacturer, we admit that 100% is always better, but to achieve that a lot more human intervention than just throwing away a cup in a bin is required from all ends.
First of all, the manufacturers should find an alternative to PE, secondly the coffee shops should encourage 100% biodegradable cups if at all available, and finally, the end-user or consumer should be aware of his responsibility too, that is, he should check if the cup is bio degradable, and dispose the cup properly so that it can be recycled.
Our cups are biodegradable and recyclable and hence we are here, writing this article to promote awareness and move towards a 100% biodegradable cup.
If we consider that the customer is righteously doing his job of disposing correctly then the responsibility rests on the manufacturer and the coffee shops.
IF after all we are not considering a very odd approach of using plastic linings instead of welded PE, so that after drinking coffee a customer would be required to separate the lining from the paper and dispose separately, and of course before doing that be careful enough to not leave any residue of coffee to avoid a messy separation with the cup.
Now, back to responsibilities, its currently a status quo, that has hardly any chance to change in the near future. We as manufacturers do have alternative to PE, PLA or corn starch has been around for years, and is a perfectly bio degradable and safe alternative for PE, although it is not heat resistant. But for cold cups, PLA despite having a few problems like being prone to leakage, could be a decent trade off for PE, but since PLA increases the cost of production by 50%, manufacturers are unable to continue research and development to further refine PLA to suit all requirement, since there is no requirement in the market for corn starch based cups.
So what we do now is continue developing our cups to the maximum standard of eco-friendliness possible and we maintain the strict standard of recyclability and bio-degradability that we promise and promote.
for some reading on comparison between PE and PLA coated paper cups, here is a small research excerpt.