Dunkin’ Donuts, one of the largest fast-food restaurant chains in the world, will now switch from styrofoam cups to paper coffee cups. Like many other top A-listed restaurants around the world, Dunkin’ wanted a cost-efficient and eco-friendly alternative to styrofoam cups.
Dunkin’ Donuts opted for paper coffee cups because they originate from renewable sources, unlike plastics. The restaurant joins cities, restaurants, and nations which realised and opted for sustainable packaging solutions.
Paper coffee cups are becoming the go-to alternative to all unsafe and unhealthy cups. Rampant single-use plastic bans forced manufacturers and stores to produce and stock the accessible alternative. Meaning food outlets and eateries had no option but to join the bandwagon in such cities.
Years ago, Oxford became the first city in the UK to ban all non-recyclable plastic food packages. The move forced everyone in the food packaging scene in the city to go for biodegradable and recyclable options.
Styrofoam cups are still in extensive use, with many people unaware they are single-use plastics. The looming EU single-use plastic ban will possibly wipe out the single-use plastic straws and styrofoam from the market, so, it’s time to quit on them.
About Styrofoam Cups
First, you need to know styrofoam is a brand name. The name is a trademark of a plastics manufacturer, Dow Chemical Company, which envisioned styrofoam back in 1950. Manufacturers blow-mould the versatile and robust plastic-polystyrene to create styrofoam.
Perhaps, you only know styrofoam for its enchanting coffee cups and foodpackaging material. But the product has multiple applications.
Manufactures in the construction industry use polystyrene to make building materials. Plus plenty of household items and electrical appliances originate from the versatile plastic
Here’s Why You Must Quit Styrofoam Coffee Cups for Paper Coffee Cups
Styrene used in making polystyrene has multiple effects on human health. Slight exposure to styrene causes eye and mucous irritation and gastrointestinal illnesses. And extreme exposure leads to headaches, body weakness, depression, hearing loss, and central nervous system dysfunction.
Research shows styrene has connections to lung cancer. The plastic particles contain carcinogens that expose users to the dreadful disease. Further studies on styrene showed polystyrene workers had higher mortality rates caused by leukaemia, pancreatic, and oesophageal tumours.
Manufacturing Styrofoam Exposes Everyone
If you don’t use plastic cups, you might assume you’re safe from styrene exposure. Styrofoam coffee cups’ manufacturing exposes everyone to the harmful effects of polystyrene.
Styrene particles are in the form of small particles which roam in the air from manufacturing companies. Meaning, inhalation, or even touching the products puts you at risk of styrene effects. Analysis of non-occupational surgery patients found styrene molecules in their blood.
So, styrofoam cups, unlike other plastics and paper coffee cups, have adverse effects throughout their processing to both users and non-users.
What Happens When Using Styrofoam Cups?
As seen, styrofoam cups contain styrene and harmful benzene.Plus the chemicals carry dangerous effects on human health.
High coffee or food temperatures cause styrofoam breakdown, which leaches into the food, gets ingested and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Again, unlike paper coffee cups, you can’t use styrofoam cups to serve acidic drinks, alcohol, or wine. Lemon tea, red wine, and juices as cold as they can get, dissolve styrene monomers exposing you to all risks of the packaging product.
With the modern heavy reliance on takeaway foods, styrofoam food packages have been a hit. However, you cannot microwave styrene packaged foods because hot meals cause the breakdown of the plastic making your food unsafe.
Styrofoam Environmental Impact
Styrofoam cups and packaging materials are non-biodegradable and take over 500 years to decompose. With the cups being weightless, they get blown into rivers, parks, and oceans. The cups breakdown into harmful particles and chemicals which linger in the sea and soil for ages.
Continued use of polystyrene products remains to create a massive pressure on natural resources. Petroleum extractions put the environment under the risk of carbon emissions and ozone layer depletion.
Petroleum is also a non-renewable energy resource. It, therefore, makes polystyrene unsuitable for a sustainable and clean world.
What to Do to the Massive Styrofoam Plastic Waste in Landfills
Recycling is still a significant problem for many nations, and it’s the only way you can dispose of styrofoam coffee cups and food wraps. The cups are already an eyesore in many countries’ landfills, thus the widespread bans.
With the styrofoam cups being non-biodegradable, many people resort to combustion as the faster disposal method. Sadly, burning styrofoam cups cause emission of carbon-monoxide and styrene monomers into the air.
By now, you know styrene monomers in the air expose all creatures in the world to cancer-causing chemicals. So, every-time you’re burning garden or home rubbish, remove all plastics. And dump styrofoam cups and packaging containers in designated recycling bins.
Also, disposing of styrofoam in landfills is a risk to safe drinking water.Styrene decomposes, leaching into the soil and sips into the rivers and clean water sources during rainfall.
Styrene in rivers endangers aquatic life, plus puts you at the risk of consuming contaminated fish.
People living near factories and landfills because of poverty face an unfair effect from the harmful chemical.
Alternatives to Styrofoam Coffee Cups
Styrofoam effects should, however, not break your undying love for coffee or liking for takeaway foods. Coffee outlets can switch to biodegradable paper cups right off the bat.
And customers can “go-green” by committing to cafes prioritising eco-friendly or biodegradable paper cups.
If you take into account recycling infrastructure problems. You’ll learn biodegradable paper cups provide an incredible solution to the pollution problem.
For other food packaging needs, there are eco-friendly alternatives after single-use plastics. Bio-plastics, reusable bags, reusable water bottles, and paper food take away containers provide unlimited packaging options.
Styrofoam coffee cups and food packaging material are not viable for a sustainable business environment. Using them is ignoring customers’ safety, the environmental impact, and your business credibility.