So what’s the deal with composting those plastic-lined paper cups?
This question was proposed recently at a staff meeting, and certainly, as an army of composting nuts, was worth investigating. As with most things, there are differences in opinions, but here’s the jist:
1. Plastic-lined paper products aren’t compostable, since the plastic simply breaks down into nearly invisible tiny pieces or “microplastics.” These microplastics contaminate the soil, are ingested by insects and worms, and run off into rivers and oceans, damaging marine ecosystems: http://www.ecocycle.org/specialreports/microplasticsincompost.
2. Plastic-lined products need to go to appropriate composting facilities and are usually not suitable for backyard composting since the pile doesn’t reach a hot enough temperature. If you do try, however, and it works, you may end up with a plastic skeleton which can be removed from the pile.
3. Some cities, like San Francisco, accept plastic-lined products for resident convenience and claim they are able to separate the plastic and divert the cardboard from landfills.
4. Composting facilities use a variety of processing methods so some collect these products and other don’t. Best to encourage people to contact their local facilities to see what they do/don’t accept.
5. The recycling stream is contaminated with “compostable” cups and they’re screened out or off to the landfill they go, causing methane emissions like everything else.
6. The quickest and easiest solution to this issue is to bring your travel mug with you everywhere!
This article, “Is Your Cup Compostable -or Biodegradable and Why It Matters?”
We also came across this blog, “Tyler Talks Trash” and Tyler seems to have done some research on which cups actually are compostable and has listed some products.
Finally, a little video – 4 Tips to Buying Truly Green Biodegradable Cups