Bisphenol A (BPA)
When used as a resin, BPA primarily makes plastic products, such as eyeglass lenses and DVDs. It is also found in many paper products, including paper cups. The BPA finds its way into paper cups, either due to cup production lines using BPA resin-lined parts.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, BPA is linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and liver problems. In fact, BPA is so prevalent, tests have shown signs of BPA in human blood and breast milk. Paper cups made from recycled paper have a higher concentration of BPA.
Polystyrene and Leaching
Polystyrene is used to serve hot liquids like coffee or soup because it insulates the liquid and stays cool on the outside so the drinker will not burn his hand. Unfortunately, hot liquids or microwave use can cause the Styrofoam to melt or break down, causing the chemicals benzene and styrene to leach into the liquid inside. The person drinking the liquid in turn ingests the chemicals, which can cause health problems.
The chemicals found in Styrofoam are possible carcinogens and can contribute to a variety of cancers including breast and prostate cancer. Cancer is not the only health issue associated with polystyrene. Styrene can mimic the properties of the female hormone estrogen and cause thyroid problems as well as menstrual irregularities. Excessive exposure to styrene can also affect a person’s central nervous system, resulting in general fatigue, headaches, depression and kidney problems. Other effects of styrene exposure include skin and eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, low hemoglobin and platelet counts, and abnormalities with chromosomes and the lymphatic system.
Regular coffee cups are often coated with a protective substance. These cups are also sturdily made and glued at the seam. Unfortunately, the glue used to hold these cups together partially dissolves when the coffee is poured into the cup, releasing trace amounts of toxins, such as melamine, into the coffee. While a single dose of melamine is low risk, tests on rats have shown that increased exposure leads to an increase in weight gain, diarrhea, bladder stones and even cancerous deposits.
Waxed paper cups
Waxed paper cups cannot be recycled in the literal sense of the word. The reason they cannot be recycled like your newspaper or a magazine is that they are coated in paraffin wax. That type of wax is a petroleum-based product. According to Earth911.com, recycling paper requires water, and adding oil ruins the process.
Environmental concerns :
Styrofoam cups – polystyrene is made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, and the process of creating polystyrene pollutes the air. Few recycling plants have the technology to recycle polystyrene. Cups and containers made of this synthetic material are hard to recycle. They must be melted using proper equipment, which the majority of recycling facilities do not have.
It is estimated that it could take hundreds of years for polystyrene to decompose yet it never biodegrades it only becomes smaller particles. Some scientists believe producing Styrofoam emits ozone into the atmosphere at levels that are unsafe. Styrofoam is not only a potential threat to humans, it is a potential danger to the environment
Regular Paper cups – aren’t as biodegradable as people may think. It will take well more than 20 years for a standard paper coffee cup to break down in a typical landfill. Paper cups also require more raw material, energy and money to produce.
The inner liner of regular coffee cups polyethylene is made with petro chemicals which never biodegrade. As the cups decompose, the polyethylene releases methane–a greenhouse gas 23 times worse than carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
The disposable paper coffee cups found in many commercial coffee shops are made of 100 percent bleached virgin paperboard. This means that the fiber used to make the paper is not recycled and has been bleached with chemicals to remove the natural pigments from the pulp.
Over 6.5 million trees are killed each year to manufacture the over 16 billion paper coffee cups that Americans use. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and filter groundwater; they can no longer perform their functions when they are removed from the ecosystem.
Recycling – Commercial recycling cannot remove the glue in in regular paper cups, making it impossible to recycle them. Wax covering on paper cups exacerbates the problem, adding another irremovable layer to the cup.