It’s the “Paper versus Styrofoam Cup Conundrum”. Which is the greener choice?
You may be as surprised as we were by the answer: Styrofoam
Paper cups use more raw materials and energy than styrofoam—and cost more. “A study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking shows that making a paper cup uses as much petroleum or natural gas as a polystyrene cup. Plus, the paper cup uses wood pulp. The Canadian study said, ‘The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup.’ And because the paper cup uses more raw materials and energy, it also costs 2.5 times more than the plastic cup.”
Eco Joe tells us that styrofoam is actually the “greener” choice over paper. For example: Paper Cups Don’t Biodegrade. Well, eventually they will (as does anything, eventually), but it takes much more time than I’d thought for a paper cup to biodegrade. The gubmint says, “Modern landfills are designed to inhibit degradation so that toxic wastes do not seep into the surrounding soil and groundwater. The paper cup will still be a paper cup 20 years from now.”