Paper Cup vs. Styrofoam Cup: Which is the "Greener" Choice?

Quick, which is better for the environment: paper cups or styrofoam ones? If you chose paper (because of its biodegradibility), you'd be surprised at the answer.

Eco Joe tells us why styrofoam is actually the "greener" choice of the two. For example:

Paper Cups Don’t Biodegrade
Well, they do eventually (as does anything, eventually), but it takes much more time than I’d thought for a paper cup to biodegrade. The gubmint says, “Modern landfills are designed to inhibit degradation so that toxic wastes do not seep into the surrounding soil and groundwater. The paper cup will still be a paper cup 20 years from now.”

Paper Cups Use More Raw Materials and Energy Than Styrofoam (And Cost More)
This was a surprise to me:

“A study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking shows that making a paper cup uses as much petroleum or natural gas as a polystyrene cup. Plus, the paper cup uses wood pulp. The Canadian study said, ‘The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup.’ And because the paper cup uses more raw materials and energy, it also costs 2.5 times more than the plastic cup.”

Link (Photo: lilivanili [Flickr]) | Here's what Starbucks has to say about their paper cups: Link - via The Issue


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Quite stunning that how longs it takes to degrade is used against a paper cup, when, as others have commented. styrofoam doesn’t degrade at all, and what's worse, is when it doesn't end up in a landfill (to take up space for centuries), it breaks up into little pieces that remain in eco-sytems. That is what made me extremely suspicious of this report. Nor does it mention the resources used to obtain the petroleum used in the manufacture of styrofoam. Makes me wonder who is behind this website, and what industry influence and support it represents.

So pause and think about all those little bits of plastic, inside bird and fish and mammal stomachs, and once they die, then still staying in the dirt and water and hanging around for centuries after we’re gone. Or what happens when plastics are burned….There is no dilemma-styrofoam is a bad choice.
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Styrofoam takes 700 years to decompose, and paper cups take only 20 years. Paper cups may make more waste since there are coffee sleaves on them but guess what, you can recycle those. Styrofoam si cheaper to buy that's why it is promoted so much on the internet, that's why people will tell you it's better, but it's not. You have to truly think, is it worth the cost to kill our environment when you can recycle the paper cups. Styrofoam is recyclable but virtually no where has recycling plants for styrofoam.
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Are we talking STYROFOAM or PLASTIC? You started with one and went to the other, and the two are way different when it comes to biodegradability and chemical properties, no?
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Get a stainless steel insulated travel mug, just one of them, and use it for as long as you can.
Cups of coffee I drank in the last 2 years, probably around 1000.
Number of paper cups used - maybe 10.
Number of styrofoam cups - 1 (and it tasted awful).
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