A Scary Story about Paper Cups

Do you know what’s REALLY scary? Some people at YOUR office when they haven’t had their morning coffee! And there’s a fierce battle brewing over YOUR cup of coffee. The Wall Street Journal reports that like plastic cups, paper cups with bonded plastic lining are now coming under heavy scrutiny by regulators. You might have noticed that your company is no longer providing paper, styrofoam or plastic cups at the coffee machine anymore. Well, paper cups sourced from sustainable forests have for years been hailed as a more environmentally friendly option than plastic foam, with Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. recently pledging to switch to paper.

But these paper cups are attracting new scrutiny because they contain a tightly bonded plastic lining that needs to be separated before the paper can be recycled. The process requires specialized facilities, meaning most cups, even if put in the recycling bin, end up as trash. The issue is gaining attention as consumer awareness rises about how plastic water bottles, bags, straws and other products used just once before being thrown away are ending up in oceans and hurting the environment.

The makers of paper cups defend their products, saying the focus should be on ensuring they are properly recycled. The cups must be collected separately so they can be trucked to facilities that have the ability to separate the lining from the paper.

“There is the capability to recycle a paper cup in its current form; it’s just getting the product to our paper mills that’s the challenge,” said Stefan Pryor, market sector manager for U.K. paper mill James Cropper PLC.

Awareness has risen in the U.S. too, with a wave of bans targeting plastic straws, and China’s recent ban on imported waste is drawing further attention to the issue. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. starting today is rolling out a BAN on paper cups at its U.S. offices, after previously scrapping such cups in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In a memo to staff this month, the firm asked its Americas employees to bring their own mugs to work saying the region consumes more than eight million non-recyclable cups each year. Whoa!

So first they come for your plastic straws, then your plastic lids and now the cup itself. And very soon the only safe place remaining to contain your necessary morning beverage will be YOUR own mug that you brought from home! Ruling your world means knowing the news before it reaches your company so you can be prepared.  And do you know what’s even SCARIER? Rising health care premiums for you and your employees. But fear not, because our team of heath insurance and employee benefits experts are right here to answer any of your questions…or even let you use our coffee mugs!  

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A New Target in the Fight Against Plastic: Paper Cups

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