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BPI Certification

How Compostable Cups Can Help Save the Planet

Many companies pay lip service to the idea of going green. But promoting a true circular economy requires real commitment, and real standards. That’s where the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) comes in.

The more businesses and individuals produce and use compostable products as an alternative to the more wasteful products of the past, the closer we can get to achieving a circular economy. So the BPI launched as a science-driven organization to provide testing, education, and promotion of compostable products.

The BPI’s most widely known contribution is the certification it provides for compostable products. For a product to carry the BPI-certified logo, it must meet the ASTM D6400 & D6868 standards and specifications required to be compostable.

That certification provides a proof of concept for companies and organizations that want to be truly serious about reducing any negative environmental impact that may result from their operations. It also highlights the benefits of using compostable cups.

Reusable Cups May Not Be the Answer

Let’s start by considering just how much coffee and other beverages people consume out of takeaway cups. Two striking examples help illustrate the gravity of the situation.

A 2018 study in Ireland found that people in that country throw 22,000 single-use coffee cups into the trash…every hour. To put that into perspective, just 5 million people live in Ireland, while nearly 8 billion others join them on this planet. Meanwhile, Great Britain goes through 2.5 billion plastic-coated paper cups each year, with only one in every 400 cups getting recycled.

Do some quick math and you’ll see that the amount of waste we produce just by using throwaway coffee cups is absolutely massive, clogging landfills and waterways and causing major ecological damage.

Some environmentally conscious people have tried to combat that waste by using reusable coffee mugs, made out of aluminum or other materials. A study by found that reusable cups are a better option than single-use cups in multiple ways:

The CIRAIG study compared the potential environmental impacts of a 16-ounce, single-use coffee cup made of a mix of cardboard and polyethylene (with a lid made of polystyrene) to those of a 16-ounce, reusable ceramic cup and to those of a variety of 16-ounce travelers’ mugs made of stainless steel, polypropylene, and polycarbonate. Over a one-year span (using one cup a day), the reusable cups scored well in the climate change arena—that is, they were associated with fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than their single-use counterparts. Likewise, they scored better in the human-health category for things such as toxic emissions, smog, and ozone depletion. They also tended to use fewer minerals and fossil fuels than disposable cups did.

Unfortunately, reusable cups come with drawbacks of their own. The same study found that washing reusable mugs with hot water and soap makes them worse choices than single-use cups when it comes to ecosystem-quality indicators “such as ecotoxicological emissions, acidification, eutrophication, and land occupation.”

The Benefits of Compostable Cups

This is where compostable cups come in. We know that traditional single-use cups that are coated with plastic are a scourge to the environment, since they don’t break down naturally and thus take up valuable real estate in dumps and waterways. We also know that reusable cups cause damage of their own with the amount of water and energy required to wash and maintain them.

Compostable cups address both of these issues. Without that plastic coating, compostable cups can be safely included with other compostable materials, breaking down naturally and even helping to create mulch or ingredients for healthy soil. In other words, buying a coffee and then chucking your compostable cup can actually help rather than hinder the environment.

Meanwhile, by not using up precious water and energy to clean and maintain your compostable cup (since you’re disposing of it right away), compostable cups gain the upper hand on reusable cups made out of aluminum and other materials.

Life In Green Eco-Friendly Cups: BPI-Certified

As a leader in innovative thinking and environmental progress, Life In Green makes a wide variety of eco-friendly cups that earn BPI certification as compostable. We also work closely with all of our vendors to identify the composting sites nearest to them, while also providing handy tips on how to compost quickly, safely, and easily.

As technology evolves, Life In Green will continue innovating to produce cups, lids, plates, bowls, and other products that contribute to a circular economy. Wherever those advances take us, offering compostable products will lie at the heart of everything we do.