Is a paper cup degradable?

As living standards steadily improve,people have even higher food safety standards for to-go coffee. People require instant and sanitary packaging, like paper cups. With the massive production of paper cups and consumption, facts show we are producing and throwing away billions of disposable cups per year. Yes, billions.

It is estimated that in the US alone, there are over 50 billion coffee cups produced each year. Behind the facts, we need to think—is a paper cup degradable? Could paper cups be recycled? Where did the disposable paper cup go?In the production process of a paper cup, paper will be added to a thin liner to isolate water so it doesn’t leak; therefore, most of the paper cup is made of paper and plastic liner.

What happens when it gets disposed of? Just like the picture below, it simply reminds me.Then we want to ask: Can paper cups be recycled? With a plastic liner, the answer is no. With plastic liner, even if we manage to collect disposed paper cups and put them into a paper factory to be recycled, the plastic cannot be resolved and recovered into new paper products.

The large amount of disposed paper cups became an eco disaster; they are mixed with other daily disposals and will generally end up in landfills or in the sea.

Compostable paper cups: right now on the market, PLA and water-based barrier liners are available.PLA is a bio-based plastic; it requires less time than plastic like PE to degrade in nature but could not be recycled as PLA could not be pulped and recovered as new paper products.

100% Recyclable Paper Cups: There is a new material appearing as a new option for paper cup liner called water-based barrier coating (WBBC). It could satisfy the water isolation requirements, degrade naturally, and, in the meantime, be 100% recycled back in the paper factory. Currently, Nespresso is taking the lead by using this new liner on its paper cups in the global market.

WBBC-lined paper cups could be directly 100% recycled, making paper cups recyclable; they could be recovered as paper sheets with good fiber and made into brown paper bags.

Starbucks: Reports say Starbucks plans to phase out paper cups in the U.S. and Canada.

By the end of next year, Starbucks customers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to use a personal, reusable cup for their drinks, the company announced Tuesday. The change will apply to drinks ordered in the café, at the drive-thru, and on mobile orders.

We could try to use fewer disposable paper cups.

What needs to be mentioned here is that paper cups are usually made of high-quality paper, and the best way to deal with them is to create a complete and effective system to recycle them and recover them into new high-quality paper products.