We can still win the war against the single-use paper coffee cup

© Joco

How long have we been at war with the paper cup?

Well, here at TreeHugger we've waged a long battle against single-serve paper coffee cups since at least 2008, when our founder Graham Hill came up with his quirky We Are Happy to Serve You porcelain coffee cup.

There are others - the I Am Not A Paper Cup cup, for example; the porcelain EcoCup; and now, the glass and silicone-covered Joco cup (seen above).

None of these cups have become a Kleenex, or a Scotch tape - i.e. a household-name item that everyone knows and most people use. And that's the problem. Paper cups are so plentiful, and oh-so disposable. We might make them from an 80-year-old tree, drink our coffee in 10 minutes and plop them into the trash.

Whether you love them or you hate them, you've probably had a Starbucks hot drink in your life, and the mega-coffee chain has admitted that the difficulties of recycling all these cups has basically stymied them - they failed to reach their recycling goals. Getting recyclers to (profitably) remove the necessary hot drink liner from the cups tends to doom the recycling process; compostable cups have also thus far been a failure.

we-can-still-win-the-war-against-the-single-use-paper-cup© Miir

So it's back to the drawing board. For consumers, the choice is to simply get in the habit of bringing reusable cups. The options are extensive - though each choice of plastic, glass, aluminum or stainless steel does have its individual drawbacks. One reusable cup we love is the Miir - the company uses a portion of each purchase to provide clean water to those in need.

For paper-cup beverage vendors, there is help from the Green Your Cup initiative. UK businessman Martin Myerscough designed a plastic liner that could be more easily separated during recycling. The cup should appear in 2015.

We can still win the war against the single-use paper coffee cup
Billions of paper cups per year are tossed...and counting (upwards)! Percentage recycled? Poor to lousy. Prognosis? There's still time.

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