Appeared in San Fernando Valley Sierra Club Chapter newsletter, Mar-Apr 2007
Related article: Paper Cups Go Green.
All That Shines Is Not Gold
(#11 of the Plastic Plague Series)
by Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
Did you ever notice the shiny lining on the inside of those paper cups designed for hot beverages . . the ones you get at your favorite specialty coffee store? Although the lining’s purpose is noble (prevents the liquid from seeping through the paper), its presence is the very reason those paper cups all end up in landfills.
Manufacturers tell me the lining is typically a polyethylene resin or some other petroleum-based emulsion. As such, it is a contaminant that prevents recycling as a paper item, and like petroleum-based plastics, it doesn’t biodegrade so is not appropriate for composting.
Such resins also coat milk cartons and many paper picnic products, thus preventing you from putting them in your curbside recycling bin or your backyard compost.