GreenWare Cups

21 Jul

GreenWare CupThis is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of ProformaGreen, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.

GreenWare cups resemble clear plastic cups but are made from a resin derived from corn called Natureworks® PLA (polylactic acid) resin. If you are a business, festival, music event, stadium or other venue selling drinks in cups, please consider these as a alternative to petroleum based plastic cups.

These cups are 100% compostable and environmentally sustainable as PLA resin is naturally recycled in the Earth.

Other environmental benefits include:
~ 20% – 50% fewer fossil resources used than with petroleum based resins.
~ No ground water contamination because the cups break down into natural lactic acid and metabolites which are recycled into the ground.

We have all been to festivals. We all know the amount of trash they produce, expecially when food & bevarges are servered. It is very admirable how diligent many events have become regarding their waste, providing multiple trash cans for paper, plastic, food, etc.

I think GreenWare is the next step, because when these cups go to the landfill they break down, unlike your typically petroleum plastic cup.

It is a small thing. But we all know small things add up.

9 Responses to “GreenWare Cups”

  1. Jennifer Kaplan July 21, 2008 at 3:53 PM #

    Thanks for the informative post! I recently worked with a group who used 500 of these type cups instead of 100 plastic water bottles. We ran into a problem, however, because it was a significant challenge to find a compost to take the cups. The facility (a school) actually had a small compost on site but it was not large enough to accommodate the cups. We were unable to find an compost and I’m not certain, but pretty sure, that the cups ended up in a landfill. I’m glad to read in your post that even in a landfill these cups are better than conventional ones, but isn’t their real value in finding composts for them? Are there any resources for locating composts across the country? I’d love to see the value of these cups be realized.

  2. John Simonetta July 21, 2008 at 4:18 PM #

    Jennifer thank you for a response to our first post. We have had this question before. Yes composting is best, but the GreenWare cup is really designed to help the landfill issue. The reason I say that is because an average run for these items is 10,000 units and the assumption is they are going into the trash cycle at the end of their usefulness.

    I like the idea of finding resources for locating composts across the country for the cups. Let me pass your note along to the manufacture and see what they suggest. If I get a response I’ll post it.

  3. Jason Paul Kazarian July 21, 2008 at 4:29 PM #

    How long does it take for the cups to decompose? When the cups do decompose, do they provide nutrients to the soil?

  4. Jean Nick July 22, 2008 at 7:36 AM #

    When they say compostable what is required? Many such items will not break down in a home compost pile but only in a carefully managed large-scale composting facility. For a festival where the items are being recaptured on-site and then sent to such a facility bioplastics may make sense, but for take-away food they do not make sense as few areas have municiple composting so the bioplastic items end up in the landfill wastestream where they will not get a chance to break down. Traditional plastic items of a plastic that is commonly recyclable in the local area are a far greener choice where recapture is unlikely.

  5. John Simonetta July 22, 2008 at 11:16 AM #


    From the factory “Greenware cups will begin to break down at 150 degrees F and 90% humidity (ideal composting conditions). In approximately 50 days within these conditions, the cups will be completely gone.

    Also, please be aware that due to the nature of molding compostable PLA resin (corn based) Greenware cups may exhibit minor imperfections such as tiny raised surfaces or grainy appearance. PLA (Poly Lactic Acid which is a resin derived entirely from natural corn materials) also begins to break down at 105 degrees and therefore should NOT BE EXPOSED to temperatures higher than 105 degrees. Some shrinking or warping of product may occur if exposed to these temperatures.

    In terms of what nutrients this product provides to the soil, no ground water contamination because the cups breaks down into natural lactic acid and metabolites but (to our knowledge) no major nutrients are offered to the soil.”

  6. Paul Smith July 24, 2008 at 6:28 PM #

    It’s encouraging to see such interest in compostable cups. I recently had the pleasure of trying out some plates by Verterra that would go well – they are made entirely out of leaves, plus the steam to shape them. That’s it. But they’re not wimpy. I’ve washed my first ones 10 times, used a knife to cut sausage on them, no problem. And they don’t use any binder to give them form, so nothing leeches into your hot foods as you eat them. An awesome find. I wrote a piece about them, and their energy efficient factory here

  7. Jennifer Kaplan September 15, 2008 at 1:02 PM #

    FYI, I just found a national searchable database for composting facilities:


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