February 2, 2009

Are Ceramic Coffee Cups Greener Than Disposable Coffee Cups?


We often look at the arguments for greener options in our lives, and wonder - just because it's greener how much energy did it take to produce this green product? How long do we have to use this greener option to make it truly green? It is a question that Single Serve Coffee has been looking at for years, and we've finally found said answer. A Dutch study that demonstrated that we have to drink a lot of coffee out of our ceramic cup to beat out the paper or polystyrene one. Now a new study from the University of Victoria confirms this feeling that greener isn't always greener (or at least not right away).

According to Adharanand Finn in the Guardian, one needs to use the ceramic cup over 1,000 times to outdo the polystyrene cup, and even more compared to paper. It may not sound very plausible - but on closer inspection the arguments seem to add up. Firstly, ceramic cups use more energy in their production. Second, there is all the hot water and washing-up liquid used when you wash up your mug. Third there's the environmental consequences of distributing ceramic mugs - because they are bigger and heavier than polystyrene cups, which can be tightly stacked, you are looking at more ship and lorry journeys, using more fuel. And, finally, polystyrene cups can be more easily recycled. So hang on to your ceramic or stainless steel mug and in three or four years you will have made a difference.

Read more at Are Ceramic Cups Greener Than Disposables?

Read More in: Coffee Cups & Travel Mugs

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Posted by Jay Brewer at February 2, 2009 5:27 AM
Recent Comments

I think it's important to note that both the Dutch study and the study from U. Victoria evaluate the energy impact of these coffee cups, and not the overall environmental footprint.

Naturally, a reusable cup made of ceramic, plastic, or steel will be more energy intensive upfront. But that energy is made up over it's entire lifespan. Similarly, a reusable cup is more eco-friendly in terms of waste and garbage created, natural resources consumed, and greenhouse gases emitted. Once ALL the eco-areas are factored in, we find that reusable cups become more eco-friendly after a handfull of uses.

Don't focus entirely on energy to the detriment of other eco-areas that are just as important. Drink your coffee responsibly, and bring your own reusable cup.

For more info on the environmental impact of disposable and reusable coffee cups, feel free to stop by www.SustainabilityIsSexy.com

Posted by: Nicko at February 4, 2009 7:32 PM

I guess if you're like me, and never wash your mug, you're truly green. Kinda like that stuff growing on the bottom.

Posted by: JimS at February 2, 2009 10:40 AM

yeah, in the meantime, keep filling up those landfills with discarded cups! let's see how selfish and irresponsible we can become! hurrah!!

*shakes head in disbelief*

Posted by: ken samson at February 2, 2009 9:56 AM

Yeah... and every time you throw away the plastic cup to the garbage it will stick in a landfill for thousands years or end up in an artificial island somewhere in the pacific...

Posted by: José Tavares at February 2, 2009 7:05 AM
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