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Restaurant Cups: Half Empty or Half Full?

Many restaurants still offer one use beverage containers.

Although this may create some apprehension in customers who would prefer not to toss out, sometimes you don’t have the choice.

Restaurants alone generate tons of waste. Included in this is packaging from things like cups, in which billions are produced each year.

Styrofoam provides one case where toss away convenience has lent to devastating problems. This substance does not break down, and left to sit in landfills can cause environmental and health problems.

Though Styrofoam is still continuing to be phased out by laws and regulations, the U.S. still produces enough cups made from them to make 436 trips a year around the earth.

The Clean Air Council reported that on average, approximately 500 disposable beverage containers are used by one U.S. office worker per year. That’s a lot of coffee breaks.

Further, 25 billion of these are Styrofoam, and are not recyclable so they are sent to landfills. They are also non-biodegradable, made of a compound called Styrene which is an environmental pollutant that is known to leak from the containers they are manufactured into and into drinks and foods. Styrene products can also be particularly unsafe to the workers who produce them.

Paper cups may seem a better alternative, but if you think about it, paper itself will not hold a hot or cold beverage very long. The paper on items like disposable cups is actually coated with a plastic resin. This liner keeps liquids in, but is usually not recyclable (mother nature network).

There are many products available for commercial use that are made from natural, biodegradable and even compostable materials that hold drinks just as well as their conspicuous counterparts. The decision to switch may be financial, given that many of the questionable products are cheaper to produce therefore more inexpensive to buy wholesale, but in the long run convenience should not come at the expense of health.

More restaurants and beverage industries should target the wellbeing of their consumers by using safe and ecological containers.

Increasing numbers of restaurants are providing recyclable drinking cups as well as onsite collection containers as standard. As alternatives to one use throw always, some companies offer reusable cups which can be brought in and filled with a beverage at a discount. Also, there are restaurants and coffee shops that will let you bring in cups from home for a bit off the purchase amount of a beverage. Zero waste dining facilities try to omit problems like those associated with disposable containers altogether by scrutinizing every aspect and making replacements with more earth friendly amendments.

Though the action from many restaurants and those in the beverage industries to green up their packaging may remain to be seen, the interest and necessity is certainly there.

Image Source: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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