Are Paper Cups Bad For The Environment: 5 Problems with Paper Cups

We may be biased, but nothing starts your day better than a fresh cup of your favorite coffee drink.
Now, if you are at home on the weekend or on a public holiday, then you can reach for your coffee mug to enjoy your morning treat. But if you have to head out most mornings, then you are likely to be a Starbucks (or any coffee cafe near you) regular.

Going to the cafe is easier because you can get a disposable cup of coffee to conveniently take with you on the go.
Many Cafes opt for paper cups as takeaway containers, and for a long time, people thought these paper cups were sustainable.

After all, paper is made from trees, right? So it must be eco-friendly.

But recent discoveries have started to question the eco-friendliness of our beloved paper cups. If you are eco-conscious, then you may have come across such arguments already. And if you didn’t understand those arguments, then you’ll love this post.

Here we uncover what all the fuss about paper cups is about.


The simple answer to our headline question is yes. But how exactly?

Why Paper Cups are Bad for The Environment.

Despite the current harm they pose to our environment, paper cups weren’t always the bad guy. They (along with other disposables) were introduced to the public in the early 1900s to keep us safe from germs and transmittable diseases.

As we progressed into a more fast-paced lifestyle, paper cups gained more popularity. And our love for all flavors of on-the-go coffee, ice cream, and soups was proudly sponsored by disposable paper cups.

Although Paper cups are hygienic and convenient for our fast-paced lifestyle, they come at an expensive cost to the environment.
We have outlined the following points to help you understand why paper cups are an eco-disaster:

Manufacturing Hazards.

Many of us think that the only reason coffee cups are a problem is that they create a lot of waste in the environment.

That is true. We should adopt a low waste or a zero-waste lifestyle. But still, waste is not the only problem.

Because of our immense dependence on disposables, factories have to produce paper cups in large quantities every year. So the manufacturing of Paper cups also has a significant impact on our environment.
Some of which include:

1. Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions during Manufacturing:

Longer hours manufacturing numerous paper cups translates to a significant amount of energy consumed. Most sources of energy are fossil fuels, and the fumes exhaled by factories & power grids increase the presence of CO2 (an unbreathable gas) in our atmosphere.

In fact, for every paper cup you use, you create a carbon footprint equivalent to 60.9 grams of carbon dioxide. CO2 (among other things) is a primary contributor to climate change. And, a study in the UK showed that:

’The carbon footprint of paper cups is equivalent to over 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, similar to what 33,300 cars produce in a year.’

2. Deforestation: The Felling of Trees:

One major reason why paper cups are harmful to the environment is that they are made from trees. This is ironic because many people see this as its eco-friendly attribute.

But unfortunately, the more paper cups you use, the more trees you cut. So, it isn’t exactly eco-friendly, rather eco-disastrous.

Deforestation also causes a lot of air pollution — which makes the climate way warmer. This eventually leads to global warming.
So paper cups are setting a chain of unfortunate events in motion.

Hazards from Disposal of Paper cups.

Plastic waste is a threat to the sustainability of our planet, and--


Why are we talking about plastic waste when we are addressing Paper cups?

Well, maybe because:

3. Paper cups are not really paper:

We call them paper cups but how true is that?

These 'Paper' cups have an inner lining of polyethylene plastic that makes them waterproof, so they can hold our drinks well. And, because of this plastic lining, paper cups do not decompose until after at least 30 years.

So even though it is done out of good intentions, it comes at an expensive cost to the environment and gives birth to our next problem.

4. Paper cups cannot be recycled.

Contrary to what you believed before now, your disposable paper cups are not being recycled.
Recycling centers find it hard to separate the paper from its inner plastic lining. So, the majority of these cups end up in landfills and garbage sites. Being indestructible for at least another 30 years, they become hazardous to the ecosystem at large.

First, animals who scavenge for food will be prone to these toxic plastic materials.
Additionally, our atmosphere is at risk from the greenhouse gases that they emit.

5. Paper cups are a danger to marine life.

Every year, 8 to 9 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans, and Paper cups contribute to that. These plastics interfere with sea life and are hazardous to the creatures living in our oceans.

Apart from its plastic hazard, paper cups also contain chlorine dioxide — a very harmful chemical that poses a threat to all marine life and the water in our streams.

So what do you think?

Are paper cups bad for our planet?

We think the above points have highlighted significant problems that paper cups create in our modern world. But if you have extra submissions or counter-arguments, please comment below.

What is the Solution?

The question on your mind now is probably:

If we can't use paper cups, what else can we use?

We hear you, and we do not expect you to walk around with a coffee mug in your hand.

The NIMAL cup is the perfect sustainable alternative to all disposable cups. Its collapsible feature allows you all the fun, privacy, and convenience with no harm to the world around you.

Every time you use a disposable paper cup, think about how many trees you would have saved.

Or how much CO2 you could have stopped from going up into the atmosphere.

Or all the sea life you could have preserved just by choosing the reusable NIMAL cup.

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