I would like to share with you some Clarifications/Thoughts/Interrogations regarding the new, reusable (and recyclable) Starbucks® cup for hot beverages (source).
1- "When I talked with Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Starbucks, regarding the cups made out of 100% virgin polypropylene, he told me that one main reason the company turned to plastic was to cut down on paper waste. Starbucks uses about 4 billion disposable cups annually and the interior wax coating makes them difficult to recycle." MISLEADING: Starbucks disposable cups are made from paper coated with PE (polyethylene). Polycoated cups are recyclable and repulpable. Furthermore, most paper mills are able to process paper mixed with other materials such as polycoated paper. Pulper equipped with scavenger could remove plastic debris. Finally, polyethylene coating represents less than 6.6% of total basis weight.
2- "The exciting thing about PP is that it's one of the most versatile resins out there," Hanna said. "From cradle-to-cradle, PP offers one of the best environmental stories; it's just a winner all around." MISLEADING: Starbucks reusable cups are made from polypropylene #5 Plastics. In fact, most polypropylene #5 plastics, unless they're reused, end up in the landfill since so few municipalities accept them.
3- What is the carbon footprint of reusable cup VS disposable cup?
4- PP based reusable cups cost $1. However, a major price hike has hit the North American polypropylene market, sending prices up an average of 15 cents per pound since Jan. 1. Can we expect a cup price increase in the upcoming months?
5- How about increasing Starbucks cups recycled fiber content? Cascades, developed recently a new grade of cupstock paper with 25% recycled fiber content.
6- How about water-based coating for a fully repulpable and recyclable cups? (The idea is to replace Polyethylene by water-based coating)
7- How long do the cups last? Reusable cups need a lot of carefulness/attention/love: not lose them, not crush them, and not forget to bring them…