So whats so cool about our Cups?
Well, the planet for one thing! GREENCUPS are made from an annually renewable resource using no petroleum as a raw material. The manufacturing process uses 68% less energy, produces 65% fewer carbon emissions and conserves water, making the our cups a substantially greener option than traditional plastic or paper cups.
It's not so much why go green, but more about what's wrong with what we use now. Our cups aren't perfect, they still need to disposed of correctly in order to maximise the downstream benefits, but they are light years ahead of plastic and paper.
Problems with Plastic
Conventional plastics are manufactured from 20 different petroleum-based resins with 20 different levels of recyclability and toxicity. When discarded, plastic products can only be recycled if they are first sorted by resin type.
This sorting is an imperfect and labor-intensive process that results in an average plastic recycling rate at (Using the US an example as they are the biggest consumer globally) -U.S. municipal solid waste facilities of only 8%. The remainder of discarded plastic – nearly 30 million tons each year – is sent to landfills and incinerators.
Plastics do not disappear from our environment when they are sent to landfills and incinerators. Debris escapes from landfills. Smoke and ash escape from incinerators. The resulting pollution and toxins that plastics contribute to our environment by way of landfills and incinerators then combine with the pollution and toxins that plastics contribute directly by way of litter. A 2009 study by Keep America Beautiful, Inc. found that 19.3% of roadside waste was plastic, resulting in an average of 1,300 pieces of plastic litter beside every mile of roadway throughout the United States.
Plastic litter does not wait patiently on roadsides either. Plastic is uniquely able to travel on currents of air and water for thousands of miles, and generally ends these journeys as ocean pollution. The vast majority of the ocean’s litter begins on land (80%). Moreover, the vast majority of the ocean’s litter is plastic (also 80%), and half of that plastic floats.
Problems with Paper
The tree-based paper with the smallest environmental impact is unbleached 100% post-consumer waste paper (PCW paper) while the tree-based paper with the largest environmental impact comes from virgin wood logged in old-growth forests.
Whether it’s the best paper or the worst paper, all paper causes ecological damage. Please follow the link above to “Ecological Damage” to learn more about the ways that the virgin-wood paper industry is damaging the world’s forests and waterways.
Paper and Deforestation:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about one third of the paper made in the U.S. today comes from whole trees and plants, about one third comes from wood chips and scraps, and about one third is recycled from other paper. Global consumption of paper has increased 400% in the past forty years. Worldwide, 35% of harvested trees are turned into paper, with the vast majority coming from “plantation forests.” However, almost 9% of the trees that are harvested for paper are still logged in old growth forests, mature ecosystems that would take centuries to restore. The importance of deforestation cannot be overstated. Since the beginnings of agriculture, humans have destroyed more than half the world’s forests. Every year, another 61 thousand square miles of forest disappear. Deforestation means:
- Habitat loss: 70% of the Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests. Thousands of species are lost each year to deforestation.
- Global warming: Living trees absorb the Earth’s strongest greenhouse gas: CO2. About one third of atmospheric CO2 that is caused by humans is caused by deforestation.
- Water cycle disruption: Trees draw up ground water, release it into the atmosphere, and protect moist soils with shade. Deforestation turns water-rich ecosystems into barren deserts.
- Economic devastation: According to reports from the 2008 Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, deforestation is projected to cut the living standards of the World’s poor in half by 2050, with a corresponding drop in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 7%. Short-term economic gains in communities that adopt exploitive logging practices are typically offset by long-term losses in income and in the biological productivity of their lands.
Paper and Water Pollution:
Paper manufacturing requires huge quantities of water, so paper mills are almost always situated near lakes and waterways. Water discharged from paper mills is rich with organic matter, which at high levels is classified as a pollutant. Organic discharges from paper mills kill higher organisms through the process of “eutrophication.” By this process, organic pollutants in water nourish phytoplankton, which then reproduce rapidly into “blooms” that consume so much oxygen that fish and other species die.