America runs on coffee, and Americans are a people on the run. Every year, we drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee and of those, at least 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper to-go cups. That’s enough cups to wrap the earth 55 times!
Traditionally, those paper cups have been made with a non-renewable, non-biodegradable petrochemical plastic coating. But all that could end with the recent introduction of the new Ecotainer cup from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Vermont-based wholesale coffee company known for its fairly traded, organic products and impressive business ethics, recently teamed up with International Paper to launch the Ecotainer, an eco-friendly hot beverage cup that is fully compostable.
Instead of using petroleum, the waterproof lining of Ecotainer cup is made from a corn-based bio-plastic called polylactic acid, or PLA. In addition to being derived from a renewable resource, PLA will also fully biodegrade under proper conditions. According to company research, by using a these new cups Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will conserve the consumption of nearly a quarter of a million pounds of petrochemical materials every year.
The Ecotainer cups are currently in use only where GMRC coffee is sold, but begining this fall International Paper will be marketing them as a commercial product with the goal to make the Ecotainer the standard hot beverage cup of the foodservice industry. What’s more, GMCR and International Paper are also begining research towards developing a corn-based plastic drink lid.