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Follow the Lifecycle: Coffee Cup and Lid

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

It is easy to swing into your local coffee joint, get your super-charged, jet-fueled caffeine concoction, roll to your job and toss your empty cup before work. However, as that coffee cup and lid leave your hand and go into the trash, the lifecycle of those materials used to carry your java, and their environmental impact need to be considered.

Comparing the trash trajectory of a conventional coffee cup and lid vs. a compostable one is something to be considered. A simple switch to a more Eco-friendly solution should really be a no-brainer, yet companies and consumers alike are mostly unaware the facts.

Paper is Really Plastic

You may think your paper coffee cup isn’t so bad and if it ends up in a landfill no problem, it's paper and it will decompose quickly, right? Wrong. Most paper cups, particularly those that hold hot liquids like coffee, are lined with a thin layer of plastic that makes them non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, and non-compostable.

Now consider the manufacturing process of these plastic lined cups and plastic lids. High levels of fossil fuels are needed to create these single-use throwaway containers with most manufacturing being done overseas. This not only poses excessive, unregulated pollution but also a ruthless cycle of inhumane factory practices as well as a unnecessarily high carbon footprint transportation.

The Compostable Cup Cycle

When you choose compostable products you are throwing a wrench in the Un-Eco-friendly cycle of plastic. In the past when a business stocked its supplies, going for the green option was too expensive even if it was by just a couple of cents. There was also concern for subpar performance by green materials that would fall apart or not hold hot liquids adequately.

Now, with advanced green technology, price and usability of hot cups and lids is just as good as a conventional choice. The up side, however, is that the end cycle of a compostable coffee cup and lid does not harm the earth while plastic is ravaging it as you read this.

The materials used in a compostable choice come from plant based, non-petroleum sources. These have a short degradation period of thirty to ninety days compared to the many decades it would take plastic to decompose.

A compostable coffee cup and lid may be constructed of one or a combination of:

  • Bagasse (sugar cane stalks)
  • Sustainably harvested trees
  • PLA (polylactic acid, biodegradable and bioactive) corn based plastic
  • Leafware (fallen palm leaves)
  • Bamboo
  • Biopolymer, made from all natural plant sugars

To advertise compliance, green manufacturers adhere to many of the industries strict, quality controlled guidelines such as:

  • BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) certified
  • ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) standards
  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) paper certification

With plant-based materials and a socially conscious manufacturing process switching to a more sustainable choice make a world (literally) of difference.


Choose a business that offers a compostable coffee cup and lid to hold your daily grind. The more you support a choice like this the more people will follow. When you lead the way in following the lifecycle of any compostable product you are making a choice for a better future.

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Eating Well, Green Living, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Your Green Business and was tagged with coffee cup, COMPOSTABLE, hot cups and lids, RECYCLED-UPCYCLED, SUSTAINABLE


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Green Home is the original online ecostore, based in San Francisco, California, in the heart of both the environmental and cleantech industries. Since 1999 Greenhome.com has played its part as one of the most comprehensive online resources for greening your home and greening your business. Our company is on a mission to green the world, one person (and one business) at a time. While all of our products are eco-friendly, we are especially passionate about compostable plates, cups, bowls, cutlery & utensils, take out containers and bags.  If more businesses and individuals switched from disposable to compostable we could make a real impact on the world!

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