Not all #6 polystyrene is created equal, and certain products may be more sustainable than paper. As we considered environmental impact and beverage service efficiency, we felt Wincup “Vio” products would be the best option. As they appear to be a superior version of EPS #6 material. “Vio” cups and containers are cost effective, can be used in both cold and hot applications, and biodegrade in both wetter and biologically active landfills per ASTM DS5511 testing. Additionally, “Vio” cups and containers will offer sku reduction for operators currently using multiple product materials (ie paper and plastic cups or containers) for their products. Cradle to grave, we believe “Vio” products are more sustainable versus paper cups and containers. Below are a few of the studies that were important in our decision making process.
“Paper or Styrofoam: A review of the environmental effects of disposable cups” (University of California San Diego)
- Styrofoam uses less chemicals, no wood and only a small amount more petroleum than paper.
- The power inputs necessary for production show Styrofoam is less water and energy intensive. Styrofoam uses less steam, power and cooling water during production than paper.
- Overall, styrofoam has a smaller impact on the environment during it’s creation and use.
“Is Paper better than Plastic” Gathered from Martin B. Hocking study
- Both paper (poly lined hot beverage / wax lined cold beverage) and polyfoam cups require fuel oil or natural gas in production. Paper cups also require inorganic chemicals in the papermaking process, including large amounts of chlorine, sodium chlorate, sulfuric acid and other products for the bleaching. Additionally, relatively small amounts sodium hydroxide are needed for pulping. Chemical requirements for polystyrene cup (EPS #6) are small, amounting to about 4% of the chemical requirements of a paper cup.
- A paper cup consumes about 10x as much steam, 14-20x as much electricity and 2x as much cooling water as a polystyrene (EPS #6) cup. The contaminants present in wastewater from pulping and bleaching (paper cup) are removed to varying degree, but the residuals in all categories except mineral salts would still amounts to 10-40x those present in wastewater streams from polystyrene (EPS #6) processing.
- Conclusion, for single use applications, polystyrene (EPS #6) foam cups should be given a much more evenhanded assessment with regard to their environmental impact relative to paper cups.