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 used.
With the exception of Solo and Chinet, all the other companies got to me (although Dart and Solo look like part of the same conglomerate, and Dart replied). I couldn’t tell if the client service people were weirded out by my questions… am I the sole person asking this? Probably close to it, but hopefully not the only one.
My research into Solo was definitely by far the most peculiar. I needed no clue there was clearly a (terrible) song dedicated to red solo cups, then within that song proclaiming that “within 14 years these are decomposable”… occur Toby- plastic doesn’t decompose, it just breaks into smaller pieces for that fish to eat. 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 utilizes a whopping 20% post consumer recycled plastic in the plastic cups. I used to be hoping their eco line would have either cups produced from PLA or paper cups using a soybean wax liner, however i guess you can’t already have it all. Avoid this provider. Is the competition much better?
I’m getting before myself. My point for doing the investigation in the first place was because I didn’t understand that almost all paper cups possess a thin plastic (polyethylene) lining on the inside of them, which would be to keep the cup from deteriorating (think coffee). Surprisingly, even a great deal of the “cold cups” use a liner too.
I understand from experience that it’s difficult to use a bioplastic cup with hot liquid in it… the cup falls apart pretty quickly. Having Said That I also understand that it’s possible to utilize a paper cup with a PLA (polylactic acid, a compostable plastic) liner with great outcomes. Think about a doubly thick paper cup with wax?
Exactly what is the best solution when you have to use a paper cup? Paper cups can go within the compost pile no issue, just don’t expect those to appear for quite a while, and they’ll remind you that you simply put them in there by leaving behind a plastic skeleton. Fat chance this would be recycled, but it’s easy to pull these from finished compost and place them in the blue bin.
The other option is to “recycle” the paper cup, which can be more often done than composting. In recycled paper processing mills, the slurry from the pulper is screened to get rid of plastic, ink, clay, dirt, metals, etc from the paper. Therefore, the cup’s plastic liner is recognized as a contaminant. What will happen for this sludge from this point?
Any better ideas? The coolest example I’ve ever seen showed itself when 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 requirement for the cardboard sleeve.
I would like for more information on this design, and then wonder why I don’t see these more regularly. Maybe they’re a little bit more tedious to manufacture… that knows? I believe this concept is to get somewhere, though. The actual victory could be if the cup didn’t have a plastic liner. I must find out.
Exactly what are others doing? All the different answers went from mostly plastic liner, PLA liner, or wax lining (only in cold cups). Another company uses sugar cane bagasse, and using this procedure extraction material for paper products instead of burning it for fuel is actually a better use.
Overall, 6 out of 8 major paper cup manufacturers enjoyed a compostable liner option available, so it would be reasonable to believe which a demand has arisen for this kind of product.
The drawback is that they’re higher priced, and odds are slim that they will biodegrade properly at home composting setup, unless there is a sustained hot pile going. This reminds me in the Sun Chips bag dilemma… technically kurifp , but not likely to happen for the majority of of us.
I’m still keen on the wax lining, although wax also takes forever to break down and is also usually paraffin, which comes from petroleum, which can bother some home composters. Any cups having a soybean wax liner available on the market? This might not be the best question to become asking. To the boring basics- make use of your own cup as often as is possible to prevent sending those plastic skeletons towards the landfill/oceans.