Sunday, April 12, 2009

Free paper cups - win-win or maybe a BIG lose-lose?

I read on Springwise about the latest innovation in the office's kitchen: paper coffee cups provided to corporate customers across the US for free. How come? they come with sponsors' messages on them.

Springwise thinks it's another example of "a win-win-win for everyone involved", but is it? maybe, if we just forget for a minute the environment.

Yes, Disposable paper cups affect the environment negatively. The manufacturer, FreePaperCups is writings on its website that by using them you "say goodbye to those Eco-Unfriendly styrofoam cups", which is true - they're better than Styrofoam cups.

BUT, as you can read on the
thorough analysis on Sustainability is Sexy "besides creating a steady supply of waste, disposable cups also demand a large consumption of natural resources and emit high levels of climate-changing green house gases. Because so many disposable paper cups are used throughout the world, the actual environmental affect can be staggering."

And we're talking about trees here that are cut down to produce these cups and not just a few -
Americans consume more than 16 billion paper cups every year, which in tree terms equals almost 6.5 million trees a year!

And there are better alternatives of course, even for the corporate office's kitchen. Reusable coffee cups reduce the impact disposable cups have on our environment. Sustainability is Sexy reports that "waste, natural resources, and damage done by green house gases are all decreased by reusable cups after only 24 uses."

So I don't think this is a win-win, if anything it's a lose-lose: the corporates that use it harm the environment and the brands that advertise on the cups and make them free are actually funding it.

Almost all companies that advertise on these paper cups are companies that have major green initiatives and claim that the environment is very important for them, like FedEx ("FedEx is committed to providing global connections while minimizing our environmental impact. We have integrated responsible environmental practices into our daily operations") or Dell ("Dell systems are "Green by Design"; we consider the environment in all aspects of the product lifecycle, from design and engineering to packaging and recycling")

Are these the same companies that pay for free paper cups for corporate America??

Raz @ Eco-Libris