The Truth About Compostable Paper Cups

Everything about compostable cups can keep you running in circles. There’s a ton of misleading information in the public domain. And its similar looks to disposable cups doesn’t do it any good.

At a glance, you can’t differentiate the range of coffee cups available in the market. Only a closer look at labels can help you determine the coffee cup you’re about to buy or use.

Compostable cups also vary. There are compostable paper cups, and then the rival compostable plastic cups. That’s where there’s a lot of contestation.

Many items carrying the word compostable are possible marketing gimmicks to make you buy. For that, we will unleash more facts about compostable cups. We want you to make a better buying decision henceforth.

What are Compostable Cups? 

Compostable cups should be something you can take to your backyard compost pit without thinking twice. They shouldn’t stress you. They are like food waste or the falling leaves on your home compound.

Given the right amount of air, water, and nitrogen, your backyard compost bin can break down waste fast. It can breakdown leaves, cardboard, hay, food waste, paper, sawdust, but not plastic.

In essence, all the items with the tag “compostable” should end in your garden as manure. Meaning, you could enjoy some fresh veggies or fruits from the dumped coffee cup months later.

Compostable Paper Cups Can Turn into Your Garden’s Manure !

Compostable paper cups feature a paper board and a PLA film coating only. Paper board is natural and decays like any other organic substance. In a home compost, the paper board can take up to 90 days to decompose.

What about the PLA Coating?

PLA or polylactic acid is a polymer made from natural materials like sugarcane or corn starch. It’s bio-based and an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum laden plastics. Many marketers now refer to its biodegradability as the primary selling point.

PLA is biodegradable. Research shows PLA products can decompose for ten days at 60°C. The starch amount in PLA affects how fast it decays. The higher the starch content, the better. This means industrial or municipal composts can help to get rid of PLA waste more quickly.

PLA-Home Composting

You may need to dig your home compost deeper to decompose PLA waste. As seen, PLA decays faster in a high-temperature environment. That is at 60°C or and not over 65 ° C. Meanwhile, a standard home compost heats to only 40-50° C. Even at such temperatures, PLA can still decay, only that it will take up to 90 days.

In short, compostable paper cups are eco-friendly and can decay within three months. You only need to dump them into the right compost bins or bury in your home’s compost.

Compostable paper cups scattered by the wind or dumped anyhow take ages to degrade. This is because average temperatures and sunlight only weaken the cups but are not enough for complete degrading.

Why the Compostable Cups Confusion? 

People often generalise compostable paper cups and compostable plastic cups as compostable cups. It’s even hard to distinguish them from other disposable cups because of their similar looks.

The primary difference between these two cup types is their raw materials. Paper cups origin is clear. Meanwhile compostable plastic comes from a bio-plastic or PLA.

The drawback for a pure PLA cup is it touches and feels like the old petroleum plastic cup. Nonetheless, it’s manufacturing leaves a more significant carbon imprint than paper cups. The only good thing about them is they come from renewable sources.

Compostable plastic cups go to an industrial composting system for controlled composting. Its composting can take over two months when controlled. In a backyard compost, they eventually degrade but take longer.

Why Compostable Paper Cups?

Before compostable cups, plastic, styrofoam and disposable cups ruled the coffee industry. Plastic was ubiquitous and drinking coffee caused more harm than good.

Considering the UK alone uses over 500,000 cups per day, the environment blight from disposable cups was dire. Enter government legislations and anti-plastic campaigns. People had to come up with sustainable alternatives.

PE coated-disposable paper cups were an excellent alternative to plastic. But their recycling problem meant someone had to envision a viable solution.

Reusable cups seem to be a remedy for reducing municipal waste but aren’t convenient. Who remembers to carry their reusable cup every time they need a quick coffee fix?

Few customers carry the cups even after the retailers offer discounts. The cuts are less of a concern to a customer craving for coffee. The reusable cup itself is cumbersome to carry around.

Compostable paper cups solve the problems you’ve ever experienced with other cups. These cups don a safer coating compared to disposable cups. They can also compost in regulated temperatures.

Paper cups comprise a food-safe paper board and food-safe printing inks. So, besides their environmental strength, they are safe to use.

Paper cups are affordable and the most accessible packaging material. Since they are recyclable, investing in them protects your business from many uncertainties. Even government regulations shouldn’t trouble you.

Biodegradable Vs Compostable Paper Cups

When buying paper cups, you will encounter both biodegradable and compostable paper cups. While the two terms are confusing, they sometimes mean the same.

What makes paper cups differ is their quality and the film coating. Credible manufacturers will use high-quality GSM boards to make their paper cups. These paper boards hail from verified and certified forests.

The best film coating for a paper cup is PLA. This material makes a compostable paper cup different from a disposable cup. It’s biodegradable and chemical-free.

When buying compostable paper cups, consider a manufacturer’s credibility. Ask from local authorities to determine their compliance. And also confirm whether they meet packaging standards.

Contact Scyphus for more information about compostable paper cups and food packaging material.