Why Are Paper Cups a Sustainable Choice?
A Sustainability Expert Weighs In
Question: Why are paper cups a sustainable choice?
Answer: What's obvious is that paper cups are convenient, clean and hygienic. What's less obvious to most of us is that paper cups are made from a renewable resource. 30 paper mills in North America recycle used cups.
Paper mills take used paper cups and re-pulp them, turning them into a variety of products. The fiber from recycled cups is used to make:
- a variety of paper products
- recycled paperboard
Paper cups are a sustainable choice because they can be recycled.
They are also a sustainable choice because they are made from a renewable resource, whose cultivation benefits the environment. In other words, they are made with wood fiber from sustainably managed forests, which is a 100% renewable resource.
The market for wood fiber to make products like paper cups has a beneficial environmental impact:
- More than 1 billion trees are planted in the U.S. each year. And working forests are sustainably managed.
- Working forests capture and store carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Forests and the products made from them store approximately 14% of all annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions each year.
- Leftovers from manufacturing, such as chips, barks and sticks, are used to generate bioenergy that powers mills.
- An estimated two-thirds of the power used to make paper cups and other wood and paper products comes from renewable bioenergy and not from fossil fuels.
Paper products are a good sustainable choice -- they keep lands forested, store carbon, are manufactured with renewable bioenergy, and support our recycling system.
You can enjoy your paper cup beverage guilt-free...just don't forget to recycle it afterward! But always be sure to check your local recycling guidelines.