- Sital Pokhrel
A paper cup is a disposable cup made out of paper and often lined or coated with plastic or wax to prevent liquid from leaking out or soaking. Growing popularity of fast food business in today’s world has led to extensive use of paper cup. Paper cup has been widely accepted and used as substitute of plastic cups because they are thought to be ecofriendly and bio degradable.People have been more concerned about environment since couple of decades. Although Paper are ecofriendly and bio degradable but that doesn’t mean same thing applies for paper cup. A standard paper cup takes more than 20 years to decompose in a landfill environment. This is mostly due to the wax lining on the inside of the cup. For example, in comparison to Styrofoam, a paper cup requires 12 times the amount of water, 36 times the amount of electricity and costs double the amount of money to produce. Aside from the production of the cup, if we add the cardboard sleeve and its production, raw material, energy, additional money will be required per cup. Modifying or customizing a Styrofoam cup is nearly half the price of customizing a paper cup. It appears that going with Styrofoam is eco-friendlier compared to a paper cup. The decomposition of paper in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. Most paper cups are coated with polyethylene, to prevent the liquid from being absorbed or seeping out. But since PE is non-biodegradable it could take several years for the majority of the paper cup to break down. Only 10 per cent of the paper mills in Asia are able to process the laminated or wax linings that help make the cup water-resistant. Major coffee chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean currently offer 50 cents off drinks when customers bring their own drink container. Truly recyclable cups are being made but it will cost high to café owners which they are not willing to bear it. Reusable tumbler, coffee mug and other container which can be washed and use over and again should be preferred to drink hot beverages. Paper cups are usually made with virgin paper – entirely from tree pulp – rather than from recycled material. Only about half the chips are turned into pulp. The main raw material needed to make a paper cup is wood, which is a renewable resource. Paper cup is creating huge impact on environment.About 20 million trees are cut down to make paper cups every year. Even though the paper may degrade and become inert, the plastic will stick around for a really long time. Coffee cups are estimated to be the second-largest contributor to litter waste after plastic bottles. What’s the solution? There are four practical things that you can do to reduce coffee cup landfill that will not mean giving up your daily coffee ritual.
- Don’t take away — drink your coffee from ceramic cups at the cafe
- Bring your own reusable cup
- Refuse a lid — if you don’t need the lid don’t take one
- Choose a cup made from rapidly renewable resources like managed plantation paper board and separate the lid from the cup when disposing of the rubbish
(Writer Sital Pokhrel is persuing her master’s Degree in Business Administration.)