Another Compostable Paper Cup

Eco-friendly food services that provide carry-out and delivery have plenty of options available for cutlery and tableware that's both disposable and biodegradable, but one item gets left out of the mix: the paper cup for hot drinks. Usually the paperboard used in these cups is coated with petroleum-based resins that will gunk up the works in municipal and industrial composting facilities. Such gunk may be a thing of the past, though, as another innovation has joined the Green Mountain Ecotainer: Cereplast, Inc., MeadWestvaco Corp., and Solo Cup Company have developed a new biodegradable resin that will resist heat up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) has granted MeadWestvaco and Cereplast the first-ever use of its logo for coated paperboard (including corrugated cardboard) with thicknesses of 4.6 pt to 32 pt. Products bearing the BPI logo meet ASTM D6868 and are designed to biodegrade quickly, completely and safely, without leaving any plastic residue in commercial and municipal composting facilities.

Cereplast resins are formulated from a patented and proprietary manufacturing process that incorporates starch and other degradable components, including poly lactic acid (PLA) from NatureWorks, LLC. Cereplast resins can be substituted for petroleum-based resins in a wide variety of processes, including injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming.

While the new paperboard will present a challenge for the home composter with its ability to withstand higher temperatures, this is good news for food services that want to green themselves while still offering customers the convenience of disposable tableware, and for landfills everywhere that may be a bit less cluttered with all of those cups. While we're guessing that the energy that goes into producing these items still makes a travel mug a greener option for morning coffee on the run, forgetting that mug at home will soon no longer have to produce the same levels of guilt. Additionally, we're really happy to see competition developing over compostable throwaways -- perhaps other manufacturers will hop on this bandwagon. ::GreenBiz.com via the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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