Early morning. On your way to work you pop into the coffee shop in front of your office to buy a cup of energizing latte or cappuccino. They pour you drink into the nifty paper cup with a bright logo and put a plastic cover on it, so you would not spill the hot drink on the run. The you enjoy the taste and smell of your invigorating coffee, and in a few minutes the cup together with the cover gets into the office trash can joining to dozens of their ‘fellows’.
The story above is familiar to millions of people living in big cities. It is usual to take coffee away. Why not? It is comfy, fast and tasty. However, not all people think about the consequences of such consumption.
According to the UN data, every year about 8 million tons of plastic garbage gets into the ocean. On the average, one square kilometer of its surface contains about 50 thousand objects thrown away by people. Scientists have estimated that, by 2050, if this trend to throw away garbage without recycling continues, there will be more garbage than fish in the ocean.
Did you know that plastic waste products pollute not only the earth and the ocean, but also space? By various estimates, more than 700 thousand garbage gobs revolve around our ‘green’ planet.
As of the beginning of 2019, 9.2 billion tons of plastic are scattered around the world, and it will take these wastes 400 years to decompose. What does plastic have to do with paper coffee cups?
In fact, polymers are used not only for the production of covers, but also for the manufacture of disposable paper cups.
‘Inner world’ of a paper cup
When finishing your favorite coffee next time, look inside the cup. Feel the surface with your finger – it will not be as rough as the outer paper coat. The LDPE coating protects the container from leakage. If it wasn’t there, the cardboard would get wet in a couple of minutes.
The LDPE layer is an artificial polyethylene-based coating that holds water. In other words, it is a common plastic, which takes several hundred years to decompose.
Difficulties with waste-handling
Why do we mention this issue if plastic can be recycled? In this case, it is not so simple. To recycle it, at first you should sort it out. How to separate the LDPE-coating from the cardboard of the paper cup? It is almost impossible to do it by human force, and most processing companies find it hard to establish the waste-handling processes of this category because of the high cost of the equipment.
As a result, so-called ‘eco-friendly’ paper cups, which cannot be attributed to either plastic or paper, go to the trash, where they will decompose for centuries after a 5-minute use.
Moreover, they are produced from primary paper and polymers, which indicates a zero level of eco-friendliness.
By the way, a coffee cover is made of polystyrene, which is also difficult to dispose of. Moreover, when polystyrene interacts with a hot liquid, it releases carcinogenic substances that easily get into the drink, and then into your body.
Just think it over. The future of our planet and our health can be damaged by a five-minute whim and convenience…
However, it is not a reason to forgo a pleasure.
Replace disposable cups with reusable containers. You can pour your coffee into thermo cups made of eco-friendly materials, and you can pick any design you like.
Eco-oriented companies run marketing campaigns aimed at increasing awareness among buyers. Many chains of coffee shops offer discounts of 5 to 15% to customers who ask to pour a drink into their own mug.
If you always buy a cup of flavored coffee for $2, it takes $60 per month. Take 15% away and save $9 every month. The amount is small, but nice. Moreover, it will bring a warm feeling that you help our planet breathe more freely.