Paper cups have become mainstream and popular owing to their portability and disposability. Paper cups mainly comprise of paper, and their inner linings come from some polyethylene material, which holds the liquids inside the cups, be it coffee or any other beverage. Paper cups are not recyclable, and a significant majority of paper cups end up in disposal sites and even oceans. Since paper cups come from paper, and paper comes from trees, there are environmental concerns that arise with the ever-increasing use of paper cups.
Cutting down trees for purposes of timber, wood, and construction is already having a toll on the environment. Reducing tree cover means that there is interference in the ecosystem, and there are imbalances that arise which contribute to adverse weather conditions. The effects of using paper cups are multi-dimensional. There are environmental concerns associated with cutting of trees, which are the primary raw materials for the paper cups, and there is the issue of pollution since these paper cups are not recyclable, making them significant pollutants of our environment.
Mugs are environmentally friendly, in the sense that they are reusable. The trade-off that arises from the use of mugs – reusability and the non-biodegradable is a good compromise compared to the non-reusability and non-biodegradable nature of paper cups.
Mugs Help to Reduce the Extent of Pollution
The nonrecyclable and nonreusable nature of paper cups makes them a threat to our planet. Paper cups are mostly used once, after which we dispose of. With a significant number of people using them all over the planet daily, it raises the issue of disposability. Most of these paper cups are not handled well when it comes to disposal.
While there are coffee shops and other beverage outlets that do a good job when it comes to handling used paper cups, there are cases where these paper cups find their way in public spaces and even water bodies like oceans. When paper cups end up in oceans, they break down into small particles called microplastics.
Microplastics have adverse effects on marine life, and the fact that they are not degradable and that they increase in quantity means that the marine pollution accelerates for the worse. Microplastics choke marine animals, which leads to loss of marine life. In cases where marine animals like fish survive, these microplastics end up in our plates during lunch or dinner. The ramifications here are far-reaching, since the chances of emergence of diseases are high, which is not good for the planet.
Paper cups means that more and more trees have to go down in the pursuit of the raw materials used to make the paper cups. Pulp, the main component used in manufacturing paper and paper-related products comes from wood. Wood ultimately comes from trees, which suggests that for the world to have paper cups for their coffee and other beverages, then trees have to go down.
Mugs do not come from wood or by extension, trees, and that makes them a better alternative to paper cups. Continuous felling of trees reduces the aggregate tree cover of the world, and the result is prolonged periods without rain, and an increase in atmospheric temperatures – thus global warming. Trees play a very central role in the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When trees reduce, it means a lot of carbon dioxide finds its way into the atmosphere. Over time, this buildup of carbon dioxide along with other chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere prevent radiation from escaping to space, thus leading to increases in temperatures here on our planet, a phenomenon called global warming.
Consolidation of Recycling Strategies
The use of paper cups brings questions of disposal. Authorities have to come up with ways of handling paper cup waste, since it is a form of waste, just like other waste in our environment. Most of the paper cup waste is non-recyclable. This means that it will have to be incinerated, which has adverse effects on the environment, or it will have to be taken to disposal sites or and fills.
The use of mugs is efficient in the sense that mugs are reusable. They can be utilized over and over again before they outlive their usefulness. This means that less recycling and disposal efforts are required when it comes to disposing of mugs. By using mugs and cutting the use of paper cups, authorities can, therefore, restructure their efforts, and focus on easily-managed waste.
To sum this up, the effect that paper cups have on our environment is significant. The fact that the disposal of paper cups is a challenging issue raises the questions over the continued use of paper cups. Cutting down of trees to get the raw material for paper cups does not do the environment any good, especially when there are little to no reforestation efforts. Disposed paper cups that find their way to the oceans and seas continue to threaten marine life, which does not do our planet any good.
Although mugs are equally non-biodegradable, the environmental cost of using mugs is not significant compared to the use of paper cups. The costs involved in mug disposal are far much less compared to disposal of paper cups, thus meaning that management is easy.v