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Should We Ban Paper Coffee Cups?

Updated on August 22, 2015

Ban Paper Coffee Cups...Here's What I'm Thinking

BAN PAPER COFFEE CUPS! Whilst I might agree that sometimes there is a place for paper cups and plastic lids, I truly do believe that WHENEVER POSSIBLE coffee should be drank from a mug that can be washed and REUSED. But ban paper coffee cups altogether? I am not so sure about that.

That is my way of choosing the middle ground about banning paper coffee cups and I choose the middle ground not because I like paper cups (that picture shown below this text is pretty ugly) but because I am willing to conceed that there are just going to be times when you cannot carry a mug. I simply do not think it is reasonable to TOTALLY BAN coffee cups made of paper or any other disposable material. However, I definitely think that if you are drinking your coffee in a retail establishment, then your coffee should be served in a mug and that the restaurant industry should do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make that happen!

Restaurants can support this initiative in two ways. Firstly, of course, by offering reusable ceramic cups for patrons who are staying in their establishments with their beverages as a matter of NORMAL PROCEDURE and not just upon request. A ceramic mug should be the default serving vessel. Secondly, they should do everything possible to entice people to carry and use a reusable mug if they are leaving the premises with their beverage. If that means you get .20 cents off your cup of coffee when you have it in your own travelling mug, I believe that that would be a very good incentive. The same principle works when the grocery stores charge for plastic bags...doing so was enough to make customers bring their own bags from home and reuse them. Charging for a disposable cup would be an wonderful incentive to opt out.

What do you think about paper coffee cups?

Should they be banned or not?

In 2004, it was estimated that

Starbucks used 1.5 billion disposable cups.

~~ The New York Times

Do you drink coffee from a paper cup?

See results

Pros Of Banning Paper Cups - Take a moment to ponder how exterminating paper cups will be of benefit to mankind.

  1. Totally eliminating disposable cups would reduce waste and the huge impact of coffee cups on the garbage system and the earth.
  2. Reduce litter that is found everywhere.
  3. Beverages taste better in 'real' mugs.

Cons Of Banning Paper Cups - Now think about the negative issues or problems involved in banning paper cups.

  1. Difficulty for fast food restaurants in serving their customers beverages.
  2. The necessity of carrying around your favorite mug.
  3. Health implications if you reuse a cup without properly washing it.
  4. Staff handling mugs that have been improperly cleaned.
  5. Inconvenience of wanting a drink but being without a mug.

Toronto uses some 350,000,000

(yes, that's 350 million)

takeout cups per year.

~~ The Toronto Star

Three Options To Consider In A Campaign To Ban Paper Coffee Cups

  1. An outright ban. This would definitely meet the goal of eliminating disposable cups. This idea would be easy to enforce as it simply eliminates the existence of the item but it is an extreme choice and does not give consumers a chance to change their habits.
  2. A levy or tax. This would presumably reduce the use of disposable cups. Nobody likes taxes and some would bring a mug. The proceeds of the tax could help pay for recycling the cups that are used.
  3. A deposit or return system. This is a nice idea but many people do not participate in the voluntary return system now. Plus a return system requires an organized handling and storage of more garbage.

We Are Happy To Serve You...In A Ceramic Cup!

Exceptionlab Inc. 10-Ounce Ceramic Cup "We are happy to serve you"
Exceptionlab Inc. 10-Ounce Ceramic Cup "We are happy to serve you"

Here is a great choice if you are trying to reduce your consumption of paper coffee cups. Like the famous New York City Greek paper cup that has existed since 1963 except that this one is ceramic and perfect for use over and over again at home, work or even in your restaurant. The paper one is used to serve 180,000,000 hot coffees per year in New York delis and the cup has become a New York icon, some might call it the world's most famous coffee cup. This ceramic version makes a great alternative to the paper one.

 

Should Paper Cups and Plastic Lids Be Banned? - Definitely a tempest in a coffee cup!

This is a Monkeybrains lens designed to host a debate, not pick a fight. It is a chance for everyone to share their opinion and a place for communicating ideas and discussing them. In other words, a friendly discussion...now what do you think about banning paper coffee cups?

Yes, absolutely, ban them! It is about time!

Yes, absolutely, ban them! It is about time!

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Ceramic cups are also not good option because it requires water for cleaning. In case of dried stains you will use detergent ( a chemical) and more water to clean. And where will you drain this used water ??Foam cups are still a good option because of light weight and insulation. with new techniques of recycling EPS foam, its more convenient unlike composite paper cups.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      What drives me the *most* bonkers is when I *do* show up with my reuseable mug and they use a *paper* cup to *measure my large coffee* before dumping it into my mug. Serious case of stupidity!

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Well..there is gonna be a "green tax" on the ones in Canada and I hate taxes cause of previous generations..so my bottomline, they should have been banned a long time ago!

    • TopStyleTravel 8 years ago

      Disposable cups that cannot be recycled or are not biodegradable should be banned. Disposables should be used only when there is no other choice. Also people should stop littering and be responsible. We all have to live on this planet.

    • greenerme 8 years ago

      I belive it's time to make the switch, like Mortira said, to corn plastic cups that can biodegrade. It only makes sense, the technology exists. Starbucks also recently switched their plastics to #5 plastics, making it harder to recycle them (many places do not accept #5's!). There's never been a better time to change these type of things.

    • signal20gator 8 years ago

      Definately ban them. there are better alternatives

    • RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Maybe, possibly, but I don't know. Heck how much water is used to wash mugs? How much electricity to heat it to the temperature required by state regulations. This gets complicated! I guess I'll vote for the ban, and say we need to be open to further information if it's found that too much energy is wasted by washing etc.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      Yes ban them! If anyone has been to a landfill site (yep, my Hubby takes me to the most romantic of locations) and seen and smelt the muck that is produced after it has been capped over and everything left to rot in the ground, then I think you would definitely put the "green" option before the "convenient" option as much as you possibly can.

    • Mortira 8 years ago

      When Guelph banned styrofoam, every McDonalds in North America switched to cardboard for Big Macs. If we ban paper cups, Tim Horton's and Star Bucks will just have to switch to onion or corn cups. Sounds like a great idea to me!

    • julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Well, I'd like to have a special refillable, collectible mug -- like a Starbucks that I can bring back to get a better price on my daily Starbucks coffee. Like a reward program.

    No way, Monkeybrain! It simply won't work!

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      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Man, this kind of thought is so ritualistic....not much different than praying to an idol or statue of such. Why not ban stryraphome pointy fingers and baseball games...why not ban blowing up bridges and bombing people with drones. The cup debate is in your face if you go often and spend money on overpriced coffee. Your cups for a year would be less paper than one trip of weekly packaging from your shopping at Target. But it makes people to feel better to want to ban stuff. So ban them, and get in your car and drive to work, start up your computer, fly on your vacation..have a bunch of kids.... but your are green because you use a metal cup (as you poor hot water in it) and throw it away to the landfill when it cant be scrubbed any more with soft chemicals and hot water. True environmental debate should happen and will happen but when things are looked at so simply and projected on others.. it sabatages true dialog. peace

      • Ruthi 5 years ago

        I say ban non-biodegradable drink cups and containers. And, wherever possible and practical, use our own reusable cups and containers.

      • Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

        Paper cup litter is definitely ugly and horrid, but at least paper cups are biodegradable. And unbreakable. And oftentimes convenient. I'd rather ban litterbugs!

      • DesignedbyLisa LM 6 years ago

        A ban would be a problem. It isn't like I carry a mug with me at all times. But, a good solution is to do what lots of coffee places near me do -- it is cheaper to buy coffee with a mug. A coffee with a paper cup costs 15-25 cents more.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        America was created to protect the individual freedom of it's citizens. When anything is banned, then choice is forcibly removed. Who gave "Greens", or any group, the right to decide what is right for another, let alone EVERYONE?If you want my support for any "moral" goal, then you will have to earn it through sound and logical reasoning. If you try to oppress me through bans and restrictions, then you will have not only failed to attain peaceful acquiescence to your desires, but created a stalwart enemy.

      • Joan4 7 years ago

        I hate to see any more rules about anything, but I think the public can be educated and demand ceramic cups when it is possible.

      • KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

        I think it's better to provide a financial incentive, like a discount when you provide your own beverage container.

      • Yvonne L. B. 8 years ago from Covington, LA

        Do a partial ban, in offices, factories, etc. Make fast food restaurants use recycled materials for to go cups.

      • Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

        This is a great argument, but I think that it is not practical to completely eliminate them. However, it would be great to start a campaign on moving people to owning their own travel cups.

      • Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

        No, although I prefer a ceramic mug just because of the way it feels, papercups do serve a purpose at times. Our "on the go" lifestyles necessitate them at least sometimes.

      • Superwife 8 years ago

        well you can't ban them, but we can all carry that ultra cute ceramic one! I say carry your own and have it filled up.

      • rockycha 8 years ago

        I'm much more oriented toward a green way of encouraging recycling - why not make paper cups exclusively in recycled papers, and why not have paper recycling stations at every public trash recepticle too?

      • Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

        I would love to see them banned but I believe a total ban to be impractical. I would, however, fully support a levy or a tax on disposable cups and mandatory use of ceramic mugs in place like fast food restaurants.

      Picture by Pleuntje.

      Twenty-two percent of litter in Nova Scotia is Tim Horton's cups. - CBC, 2005

      I'm willing to be that we already know the answer to this question!

      What does your coffee taste best in?

      See results

      You Have Three Choices...

      • You Can Use A Paper Coffee Cup - Like whatever they happen to give you at the coffee shop...
      • Or A Ceramic Mug That You Love - Like these Starbucks collector's mugs...
      • Or You Can Use A Travel Mug.

      I am Not a Paper Cup Reusable Mug

      Pretty cool! Here is a thermal porcelain cup that is environment and dishwasher friendly!

      Accumulating styrofoam or paper coffee cups on your desk? Is your garbage bin overflowing with take-out containers? Consider a practical piece of artwork and fun and quirky alternative, the I am Not a Paper Cup reusable mug. This mug is definitally environmentally responsible and can be used both as a regular or as a travel mug. Your coffee will actually taste better than when you drink it out this mug instead of out of a plastic, rubber, or stainless steel travel mug. In a porcelain cup, you taste the COFFEE. A practical way to reduce YOUR disposable cup use.

      If you drink one cup of coffee per day per year you are generating 22 pounds of garbage.

      Paper cups are not recyclable because of the plastic coating that makes them waterproof.

      Beyond Coffee-to-Go: 101 Things to Do with a Paper Cup

      Beyond Coffee-To-Go: 101 Things To Do With A Paper Cup
      Beyond Coffee-To-Go: 101 Things To Do With A Paper Cup

      Disposable paper cups allow coffee to go more places, at more times of the day, but most often they are used and tossed away without so much as a thought to extending its life. BEYOND COFFEE-TO-GO offers 101 alternatives to a cup's single use. Some are silly, many serious, and more than a few are environmentally friendly and fundamentally practical ways to prolong the usefulness of your paper coffee cup.

       

      How many paper coffee cups do you use in a day?

      See results

      As An eBay Power Seller, I Am Thrilled To Help People Find A Mug That They Are Searching For

      It is reassuring to know that most people prefer drinking their hot beverages from a ceramic mug. (The poll on this page demonstrates that fact!) I am thrilled to be able to help people find the mug they are looking for whether they are collectors of mugs or they simply need to replace one that they have used for years. Note that my mugs all include free shipping within North America!

      A Final Thought...

      Photo by laur5785.

      Please add your comments about this page here but your 'vote' about the debate at the top in 'Here's your turn to spout off.'

      How would you respond to a levy on disposable coffee cups? (That is my favorite option.) Would it make you bring your own mug? What do you think are the pros and cons of banning coffee mugs?

      Designed to generate conversation, this Monkeybrain lens was meant to get you thinking. Your turn to comment here.

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          Ruthi 5 years ago

          I am all for banning the paper coffee cups but am against a tax on using them. Sorry ... we are all taxed too much as it is!

        • SusanDeppner profile image

          Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

          To ban or not to ban. I'm still all for banning litterbugs!

        • LisaDH profile image

          LisaDH 6 years ago

          If every company that provides paper cups in the lunch room were to buy one cup for every employee, they would save money in the long run, and we'd all save a lot of trees.

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          WriterBuzz 6 years ago

          Very nice lens. Thanks. I gave you a thumbs up, because it's a nice lens.

        • profile image

          Joan4 7 years ago

          This is a good debate! I always pack my mug in my suitcase. I just don't like coffee in a paper cup. One of our local restaurants allows customers to bring their own mug, and that seems to work out well for them.

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