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Biodegradable Paper Cups Recycling, Composting, and Buying Guide

Do biodegradable paper cups confuse you? There are many paper cup options available nowadays. Pointing out the compostable, recyclable or disposable coffee cup often difficult.

Today, we reveal everything to do with biodegradable paper cups. These cups differ from biodegradable plastic cups. They even pose a range of distinctions from other paper cups.

What are Biodegradable Paper Cups?

Often, many customers wonder what makes the coffee cups brandished as biodegradable unique. To understand these paper cups, you need to refer to the definition of biodegradable.

Biodegradable means that substance which can decay naturally with the help of microorganisms. Items in that class include leaves, bones, paper, twigs, food waste, etc.

Our biodegradable paper cups, comprise paper and a PLA coating as the primary raw materials. Paper is organic, recyclable, and compostable under normal conditions. Meanwhile, the PLA coating derives from renewable and biodegradable materials.

The other name of PLA is polylactic acid. In an industry, the manufacturer uses lactic bacteria to convert corn starch into a resin. Thus, PLA is compostable and 100% biodegradable.

In a biodegradable paper cup, PLA features as an impermeable liner. Its role is to insulate the paper cup and keep it non-soggy. Producing PLA emits 68% fewer carbon emissions compared to plastic production. Even its manufacturing process spends 35% less energy than petroleum plastics.

Biodegradable Paper Cup Vs. Biodegradable Plastic Cup

Cornstarch PLA
Cornstarch PLA Coating

Biodegradable paper cups only use a PLA film coating and paper as the raw materials. Meanwhile, biodegradable plastic cups are PLA made in their entirety.

It’s the PLA material that calls for industrial composting or needs extra effort in home composting. So, you can guess which cup decomposes faster and causes more climatic harm.

Paper on its own decomposes within two weeks in a standard compost. Add the PLA film and the duration will increase. Besides, composting of PLA requires heat and moisture. Thus, a bioplastic thrown in the trash may remain there for some years.

Many paper cups that brace the biodegradable tag many not be compostable at all. A good compostable paper cup is PLA Coated. Make sure you’re keen on the labeling to decipher the right coffee or ice cream cup.

Disposable paper cups that don’t compost don a PE coating instead of PLA. PE (Polyethylene) at high temperatures can breakdown into a toxic substance. It’s thus unsafe for food packaging and a weak candidate for recycling.

biodegradable paper cup facts
PLA Facts

Besides, PE’s health and environmental negatives, it’s also expensive to produce than PLA. That makes it unfit for a company focused on cutting packaging costs.

To manufacture paper cups, we source paper boards from verified and certified forests. This guarantees us that for every tree that we may use, a new one gets planted. By using these verified labelled product, you can pride in contributing to clean air.

A good biodegradable paper cup comprises food-safe high-quality paper boards and printing inks. For our paper cups, we assure most heat insulation with a thick-walled paper cup. For printing paper cups, we use food-safe water-based inks to guarantee elite standards.

When buying single-walled paper cups, order coffee sleeves for cost and safety benefits. The single-walled paper cup is more affordable. Besides, the jacket comes in to protect the fingers from the coffee heat.

Recycling Biodegradable Paper Cups

recycling paper cups infographic
Infographic on how we recycle

Can you recycle a biodegradable paper cup? The answer is both yes and no! Well, coffee cups made with a plastic lining are difficult to recycle. Separating the bonded plastic from the paper cup is expensive and nearly impossible. Such paper cups carry the tag biodegradable but are PE coated.

The PE coating can breakdown to contaminate the paper, making recycling hectic. Yet, recyclers can separate the PE coating from the paper using pressure and warm water.

There are also individual industrial plants that can recycle all coated paper cups. Unfortunately, 90% of paper cups, regardless of their biodegradability end up in landfills.

PLA coated cups are a more viable solution to the landfill problem. Scyphus produces paper coffee cups lined with a corn starch film (PLA). These cups, if they escape recycling, can still degrade in industrial composts.

Composting a Biodegradable Paper Cup

The beauty of an organic paper cup (PLA coated) is it can decompose even in your backyard compost. But it may take longer to decay because of your compost pit’s low temperatures.

Compostable cups
Compostable Paper Cups

Biodegradable paper cups, if taken to industrial compost, only need less than a month to decay. An industrial compost has the requisite temperatures for microbes to thrive. Thus, the paper cup can decompose as expected.

For proper decomposition, the industrial compost must get regulated at 60-65 degrees Celcius. At that temperature, it may even take ten days for the biodegradable paper cup to decay.

At home, you may either dig your compost pit deeper or turn the pile more often. A more bottomless pit is useful for producing higher temperatures. Meanwhile, turning the pile allows more aeration.

A home compost can reach up to 54 degrees Celcius and may take up to 90 days to degrade a biodegradable paper cup.

Thus, the compostability of a PLA coated cup makes it the best alternative to all the other coffee cups in the market. The bio cup can degrade and compost into garden manure 100%.

How to buy a Biodegradable Paper Cup

Hey! Irrespective the information in your hand, buying paper cups can still be puzzling. Cup print designs are often deceiving, and every industry has its rogue trader.

Your best bet to buy quality paper cups is to find a reputable manufacturer or seller. Such a manufacturer must meet all certifications and health standards. Besides reviewing reputation, you can inquire from friends, local authorities or certification boards.

For a business, buy or request for samples to test the quality. These samples can help you make a rational buying decision. Also, check labels, and opt for the PLA coated paper cups.

Cost is always a significant consideration for any buying decision. To get discounts or reduce buying costs, buy the cups in bulk. At Bio Paper Cups, you can purchase biodegradable paper cups in batches of 1000 pieces at fairer prices

Changing Trends

Shifting trends within the paper cup industry