Stephanie Falk and her husband like smoothies fromJamba Juice. But the San Diego based coupleboycotted the chain for several months last year because it served its drinks in plastic foamcups.
It's the biodegradable factor. There's no excuse. Everybody knows better,' said Ms. Falk, wholike her husband is a wedding photographer.
Now, though, Jamba Juice Co. and several other food chains are starting to serve the samedrinks in paper cups. Ms. Falk is a fan; her drink stays just as cold in Jamba Juice's newdoubled-walled paper cup, she said.
The paper industry likes it a lot too. Production of white copy paper and other forms of'uncoated' paper has fallen about 38% since 1999, while demand for paper cups is growing asmuch as 5% a year, according to industry analysts. Environmental concerns from consumersand new bans on plastic foam in more U.S. cities are prompting food chains to make aswitch.
Jamba Juice said last year it would adopt paper cups for its smoothies and other cold drinks 'toimprove our environmental footprint.' McDonald's Corp. is replacing plastic foam cups with McCafe paper cups at all 14,000 McCafes across the country. The company says it is trying tobe more environmentally conscious and cut costs on trash. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. has saidit is testing paper cups.
These companies join Starbucks Corp. and some other chains that have been using paper cups for years. Production of paper used to make cups has risen about 16% over the past five yearsin the U.S., according to industry group American Forest and Paper Association.
Hoping to take advantage of the growth in demand, International Paper Inc. plans to doublethe size of a paper-cup manufacturing facility it runs in Kenton, Ohio. The company is comingup with new cup designs--like one already in production that is fully biodegradable with a plant-based lining--and aggressively marketing the benefits of paper to potential customers.
Paper cup and plate production volume is equivalent to about a quarter of the volume of theU.S. copy-paper market, according to consulting firm Fisher International Inc., which specializesin data on the pulp and paper industry.（http://www.pandopapercup.com）
Still, 'It seems like a moment in time where the big brands are choosing to take a public positionfor sustainability,' said Michael Lenihan, director of sales and customer relations at InternationalPaper. Food businesses 'are now recognizing it as a brand opportunity on a much broaderscope.'
Environmental advocates say paper is easier on the environment than plastic foam becausethe latter tends to break up in landfills and then is mistaken by animals for food. Plastic foam isdifficult to recycle unless it is kept clean and separated from other types of plastics--so manyplants in the U.S. don't take it. It isn't biodegradable.
Such worries led San Francisco in 2007 and Seattle in 2009 to ban plastic foam, insteadrequiring food vendors to provide compostable or recyclable to-go containers. Other WestCoast cities have followed suit, and New York's City Council voted to ban plastic-foamcontainers in December unless the industry can prove it is recyclable.（http://www.pandopapercup.com）
Customers are still trying to figure out how prevalent this is going to become,' says AlecFrisch, vice president and general manager of Georgia-Pacific LLC's beverage category, whichproduces a range of paper cups, including double-walled and plastic-coated paper cups.
The plastic-foam industry disputes the notion that foam is less environmentally friendly,chalking it up to misinformation. 'I think there are a lot of misconceptions around polystyrenefoam versus paper,' said Keith Christman, managing director for plastics markets at AmericanChemistry Council, which represents the industry. Foam is 'composed 95% out of air, so youuse less material in the first place making it.' That also results in less energy use and less bulkwaste, he added.
A survey commissioned by the ACC shows that in the 50 biggest U.S. cities, about 16% of thepopulation is able to recycle food-service items made out of foam, compared with about 10%for paper.
Indeed, paper cups aren't as environmentally friendly as they seem. Only about 11% ofrecycling plants in the U.S. currently can recycle them, according to the American Forest and Paper Association, because they are typically coated in plastic or have beverage residue. Thelack of an 'easily recyclable cup designed for hot beverages' is one reason Dunkin' Brands is stillweighing whether to switch to paper, Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer, said.
'At this point, we don't know if our end solution will be paper or another material,' she added.
Paper cups are slightly more expensive than foam, usually by a couple cents. Extras like doublewalls for insulation or plant-based lining to make it compostable add to the price.（http://www.pandopapercup.com）
McDonald's has been using double-walled paper cups--which have a small pocket of air betweenthem to increase insulation-at about 2,000 restaurants along the West Coast since 2012. Nowit is expanding into the Midwest and parts of the East Coast, says Ian Olson, director ofsustainability.
While the paper cup is more expensive, McDonald's says it will make up the difference in thetrash. Most of the chain's waste is paper-based--think wraps, fry cartons and Big Mac boxes--so paper cups can go into the same trash bin, and eventually into recycling bins.
The main challenge for food companies is to find a cup that functions as well as plastic foamand doesn't cost the consumer more, said Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst withconsumer market research firm NPD Group. 'I think it really doesn't matter if it keeps everythinghot and keeps everything cold and consumers don't have to pay extra for it,' she said. E-mail: email@example.com、（http://www.pandopapercup.com）