To-Go Coffee Cups: Environmentally Friendly?

Aug. 16, 2018

Coffee cups designed to take on the go have helped to make coffee services more convenient. The cup itself was designed with a thin layer of plastic to keep the heat in, according to PRI. However, the big question is should these cups go in the trash or the recycling? 

In order to address this issue, Starbucks and McDonalds are launching a three-year project to create a better cup that is both recyclable and compostable. The plan is to build a better paper cup; one that is made with a plant-based biodegradable liner.  

Despite these efforts, it has been by no means easy to create this cup. Starbucks is calling it a “moon shot” for sustainability, and the coffee giant and McDonald’s are also dangling $1 million dollar prize to anyone else who can figure it out. Starbucks alone has created 13 prototypes in the last year, to no avail. 

This is beginning of a long journey to create a 100 percent recyclable cup, which hinges on creating a new liner that is both effective and environmentally friendly.  


Editor’s Note: There are already some cups and similar products that are “eco-friendly”, however, the important component of keeping coffee hot as well as eco has proved challenging. This will affect the consumer’s view of “eco” and should be considered as an opportunity to incorporate more eco-friendly products at locations – some are willing to pay the difference in price for environmentally friendly cups and products. 


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