Compostable & Biodegradable: Introduce the PLA Coated Paper Cups

Compostable & Biodegradable - PLA Coated Paper Cups

What Is PLA?

PLA coated paper cups are a popular type of disposable cup that is ideal for hot drinks. PLA stands for polylactic acid which is made from plant-based renewable sources including bamboo and sugarcane starch. It is a highly eco-friendly paper cup that is compostable and biodegradable and ideal for various food and beverage businesses which offer takeaway drinks for customers.

Paper disposable cups were first invented in 1908 by Lawrence Luellen who created the idea of coffee cups on the go. He used a wax lining to insulate the cups and prevent leakages while also still being convenient for people traveling. These paper cups kept gaining popularity over many years as more takeaway cafes and restaurants opened serving hot and cold drinks for customers.

PLA was then invented in the 1930s but did not become widely used for packaging until the 1980s as it was too expensive to work with. In 1989, Dr. Patrick R. Gruber discovered that he could make PLA plastic using corn starch which dramatically decreased the costs of manufacturing PLA and from then it gradually became more popular. It wasn’t until 2009 that the first PLA coated paper cups were made that started a revolution of eco-friendly and biodegradable products that has reduced the world’s plastic waste considerably over the years.

The specialist PLA coating lines the cups with a thin coat of plastic which strengthens the cups, avoids sogginess and prevents any of the hot liquid soaking through the paper of the cup to achieve the perfect cup for hot beverages that can be taken away for customers on the go. It is also an effective insulator and works to keep the contents of the cup hot for longer than cups without the additional lining. Customers then do not feel as if they have to rush and can enjoy the contents of the PLA coated paper cups at their own pace.

What Are the Benefits of PLA Coated Paper Cups?

1. 100% Compostable

One of the major benefits of using PLA lined paper cups is that they are 100% recyclable and compostable compared to other cups such as PE coated paper cups which are not. Once used and recycled, the cups will be taken to a special compost pit and have no negative effect on the environment. When the cups degrade, it is turned into compost or fertiliser which is then put back into the environment and used to create organic matter that is reused over and over again. This means PLA cups are much more eco friendly and are a popular choice for many beverage businesses.

2. Biodegradable

These PLA coated paper cups are also 100% biodegradable which means that the products naturally decay with the help of microorganisms which releases no toxic matter and therefore causes no negative impact on the environment. You may wonder what happens to the PLA plastic lining during this time but PLA is also created from renewable sources and biodegradable materials meaning that the plastic is also biodegradable too. This ensures there is less pollution created and reduces the release of emissions into the atmosphere caused by the process of waste. It also reduces the amount of waste going to landfills as it can be composted instead.

3. Reduces Carbon Footprint

Paper cups require a lot less energy and fuel consumption during manufacturing and transportation than traditional plastic cups due to their lightweight material and eco friendly production. The production of the PLA coating also emits 68% fewer carbon emissions than regular plastic. The manufacturing process spends 35% less energy than petroleum plastics which effectively reduces your carbon footprint if you choose PLA coated paper cups. This means it is also much more cost-efficient to produce PLA lined paper cups and the same equipment can be used for both PLA and regular plastic so there’s no extra cost for new machinery.

4. Insulated and Durable

 A popular benefit of a PLA lined paper cup is the insulation the plastic coat provides. Essential for hot drinks, the PLA coat makes sure the contents of the cup stay warm for longer. It also offers a more durable and sturdy cup than a biodegradable paper cup without a lining. The PLA coating strengthens the structure of the cup which makes it a suitable option for take away customers. The compostable cups are sustainable and the lining also prevents any liquid from leaking or soaking through for added protection. Furthermore, the paper cups are lightweight and this coating doesn’t add any extra weight which is suitable for customers carrying their takeaway cups.

5. Drink Contact Safe

PLA lined paper cups do not react chemically with the contents of the cup meaning they are safe to use for drinks. The PLA is a non toxic material and requires a composting environment to decompose into carbon dioxide and water. The PLA coated paper cups advertised on GMZ comply with food and drink regulations and are DIN EN13432 certified under the FDA and EU food contact regulation. GMZ are also able to print the batch code on the PLA compostable cups if you need to trace the manufacture process.

6. Brand Promotion

Using PLA coated paper cups for your business is also beneficial for the brand promotion opportunity. Not only are these compostable paper cups better for the environment, you can also customise the cups with your logo to broaden your reach. Here at GMZ, we offer customised printing for all of our products meaning you can boost the promotion of your brand with brilliant cups that customers will take away to advertise your business on their travels. You can choose the design to stand out on your cups and enjoy the increase in customers through your door. GMZ offer custom printing in 8 different colours on the outer layer.

custom pla coated paper cups offered by GMZ

7. Boosts Sales

Many customers like to know that their purchases help the environment and so if you use PLA compostable paper cups and advertise this, you should see a boost in sales. 100% compostable and biodegradable paper cups are a big hit for beverage businesses and customers will feel much more comfortable purchasing a coffee cup to go when they know it won’t add to landfill waste and will be disposed of correctly.

Are There Any Problems With PLA?

Although PLA disposable paper cups are fully recyclable and compostable, not all facilities have the equipment to process PLA plastic correctly. The special coating should be removed first and then both the paper and plastic materials of the cup can be recycled separately. This means that these PLA takeaway cups still need to be put in the correct recycling bins or it can lead to recycling contamination. While it can be argued that PLA coated cups are still better for the environment due to their compostable state, it still requires a bigger recycling process and specialist equipment to ensure it is done correctly which also uses a lot of energy and fuel to transport the plastic to the plants.

What Is The Difference Between PLA and PE Coated Paper Cups?

PLA and PE plastic coatings are both widely used during the production of paper cups to add strength and durability to the products. PLA coated paper cups are 100% compostable and biodegradable made from renewable sources such as sugarcane and cornstarch. This attribute positions PLA as an environmentally preferable alternative to PE, which is derived from non-renewable petroleum and is not biodegradable. However, PE-coated paper cups are recyclable, a factor to consider in waste management.

PE coated paper cups are still in greater demand, but the more people who know about these incredible benefits of PLA, the more widely used it will become. PLA lined paper cups have improved considerably since its invention and even though it is made from a plant-based renewable source, it is still as durable and heat-resistant as PE. PLA disposable paper cups are ideal for beverage businesses to use for both hot and cold drinks that prevent liquid leakages and insulate the contents to keep them hot for longer.

PLA plastic also biodegrades a lot quicker than PE. In a specialist recycling plant, it can take as little as a month to decompose the PLA at temperatures of 50°c or 180 days to compost the PLA at a temperature of 25°c.

Overall, PLA coated paper cups are a safe, eco-friendly and popular option to use for your beverage business. They are 100% compostable and biodegradable and will effectively reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

FeaturePLA Coated Paper CupsPE Coated Paper Cups
Material SourceMade from renewable resources like corn starchMade from non-renewable petroleum-based resources
BiodegradabilityBiodegradable under industrial composting conditionsNot biodegradable, but recyclable
CompostabilityCompostable in industrial facilitiesNot compostable
Water ResistanceGood water resistanceExcellent water resistance
Heat ResistanceLower heat resistance compared to PEHigher heat resistance
RecyclabilityChallenging to recycle due to compostable natureEasier to recycle in facilities that accept PE
Environmental ImpactLower carbon footprint, eco-friendlyHigher carbon footprint, less eco-friendly
CostGenerally more expensiveGenerally less expensive
Usage in Hot BeveragesSuitable, but with some heat limitationsMore suitable for hot beverages
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