Dispose of That Disposable Paper Cup

Are you lining your stomach with wax on a daily basis with your paper coffee cup?

Have you ever suffered from abdominal pain, the cause of which cannot be explained? The reason could be your popular disposable paper cup that you use to drink your coffee or tea from.

Disposable single use cups and their woes!

The single-use disposable paper cup is convenient and popular. It was the perfect sustainable alternative compared to the bad boy plastic cup which does not degrade, even after hundreds of years.  But without insulation qualities, both the plastic and the paper cups are quite useless for hot coffee or tea.

Plastic and Styrofoam Cups

The Styrofoam cup was the answer to holding a hot drink without scalding your hand! The craze started 30 years ago as a cheap and great insulation for keeping coffee hot and fingers not. And it does not leak. But, made from polystyrene, a type of plastic derived from petroleum, the Styrofoam cup  like the plastic cup  never fully degrade even after 500 years. Furthermore, polystyrene contains styrene that has been known to be toxic to the nervous system and disruptive to menstrual cycles.

The Paper Cup

To improve its functionality and insulation qualities, the paper cup is coated with a thin layer of wax - polyethylene, for insulation and durability and to prevent water from seeping into the paper.  When very hot liquids are poured over this cup, the paper cup wax lining may disintegrate, migrate into your drink and find its way into your stomach.

Over time while you are enjoying your daily cuppies, your stomach could be collecting significant amount of wax – the reason for your stomach upset!

Disposable paper cup manufacturers are supposed to adhere to definite standards while manufacturing these cups to ensure that they do not become toxic when soaked in water or hot liquids. However, there will be some unscrupulous manufacturers who do not follow these guidelines and use industrial wax and harmful plastic waste to reduce costs.

In the long run, the use of these paper cups can definitely affect your health as the wax material melts and get into your digestive tract causing gastrointestinal disorders and other health issues.

The same wax lining also debunks claims from paper cups manufacturers and users that they are recyclable. Plastic and wax linings are usually too difficult to separate during the paper recycling process. A select few communities accept paper cups for recycling, but a specialized process must be put in place to recycle these materials. Currently, there a very few communities that accept the disposable ‘recyclable’ paper cups for recycling.

Whether it is the plastic or paper cup, different variations of polyethylene and paraffin are used to line them and these lining, in especially low quality cups are a health and environmental hazard.

 

Alternatives?

Reusable Cups

You could forget about convenience and bring your own glass, ceramic or stainless steel cups and wash them after every use. Be careful that you do not break the glass cup or chip your ceramic mug. And watch that you do not scald your hands when holding your steel cup full of steaming coffee or tea.

Biodegradable disposable cups

Biodegradable disposable cups can be disposed off as eco-friendly waste. Hence eliminating the hassle of ensuring the cups land in a recycling bin and the right facility!

Biodegradable disposable cups made from bioplastics which need not be recyclable but disposed off to biodegrade under the right environment within 120 days.

Element disposable cups are 100% biodegradable in the landfill within 120 days under the right environment.  The end product is a non-toxic waste for fertilizers, emission of non-toxic gases which are not harmful to animals or humans and a reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide by 68% when incinerated.  Element disposable cups can even be reused up to three times without compromising the quality.

Element disposable coffee cups are made from Origo, a starch based bio-plastic made primarily from corn and yam and hence 100% biodegradable and compostable. A good percentage (70%) of corn and yam starch blended with polypropylene (Polypropylene PP - 30%) forms the basis of Origo.

PP is added to ensure water-proofing and heat resistance. It also allows Origo to withstand high temperatures. PP has shown not to leach any carcinogens or endocrine disruptor, not suspected to be an environmental toxin and not suspected of being bioaccumulative. And even if it needs to be recycled, it is easier to recycle than almost any other plastic.  It even flows more easily as it degrades, without cross linking, gel forming or off-gassing.