Eco-friendliness is a top priority for many operators when evaluating to-go cup options. You may assume that paper cups are the most sustainable choice, but is that really true?
When choosing the best material for the cups in your kitchen—whether you’re running a cafe, dining hall, hospital cafeteria or any other kind of operation—you need to know what the cups are really made of. That includes how well they perform for your operation and the people you serve.
Let’s start with a common comparison: paper cups versus EPS foam. Here are six key points to keep in mind. The decision can be easier than you think – and your answer may surprise you!
When your patrons want “green,” you should know there’s more to it than using plant-based materials.
Eco-friendliness is obviously influenced by factors surrounding disposal, but that’s only part of it. Energy and waste generated from manufacturing are critical factors, though often well hidden. In fact, even reusable cups and mugs may not be the most eco-friendly option available when you take into account the entire life cycle of the product’s production, usage, and disposal.
A few behind-the-scenes advantages of foam may surprise you: The production of foam consumes less energy, creates less solid waste, and uses less water compared to that of paper for foodservice. In fact, an average foam cup compared to an average polyethylene coated paperboard cup with a corrugated sleeve results in 50% less energy consumed†, 30% less solid waste by weight† and 20-30% less water used‡.
EPS foam cups are made from petroleum and natural gas byproducts. While paper cups are made from trees, they’re often coated with polyethylene, which comes from fossil fuels, to help them withstand heat. The coating makes recycling paper cups tricky, although both foam cups and paper cups coated with polyethylene are recyclable when you find a facility that accepts them.
When it comes to overall environmental impact, it’s a matter of perspective. So why not turn the focus back to your operation, and consider what customers really want from to-go cups? Foam cups are a grab-and-go endeavour, whereas paper cups usually mean that customers have to get a cardboard sleeve and place it on the cup themselves. While it’s a quick step, eliminating the need for a sleeve offers additional convenience and speed for customers who are in a hurry.
Nearly any design can be printed on both foam and paper, which means that cups not only look great, but can also effectively promote a logo, slogan, or brand—and what’s not to love about a little boost in advertising from your customers?
Additionally, according to Technomic’s recent Value & Pricing report, 51% of consumers say that when it comes to creating a good value at a foodservice location, it’s important or extremely important that the location has environmentally friendly practices. Using eco-friendly cups certainly falls under that umbrella.
Consider touting your environmental commitment right on your cup, such as WinCup’s Vio® biodegradable* foam—the world’s first biodegradable* foam cups and containers. The stock print says it all, with custom print options available.
EPS foam is a better insulator than coated paper cups, and it’s nice to pick up a cup that doesn’t require a sleeve. If both hot and cold beverages are served, foam cups also save space—they are ideal for any temperature drink, so operators don’t need to stock separate hot and cold cups.
Take the time to review product specifics with your supplier. There are new, better options available all the time.
WinCup’s Vio biodegradable* foam cups, for instance, are a “first” that offer a positive environmental message with benefits for the user and operator alike, including superb cost effectiveness.
Learn more about WinCup’s Vio foam cups today at http://viofoam.com/.
*Cups biodegrade 92% over 4 years. Tested under conditions that simulate both wetter and biologically active landfills using the ASTM D5511 test. Wetter or biologically active landfills may not exist in your area. The stated rate and extent of degradation do not mean that the product will continue to decompose.
†Franklin Associates, LCI, March 2006
‡Franklin Associates, LCI, 2011
This post is sponsored by WinCup