Paper as Packaging
Paper is a good alternative to plastics or Styrofoam but only if it is just a piece of paper. It can biodegrade naturally if it remains as such. However if they are changed into a cup or bowl, it will be a completely different story altogether. That’s because many of today’s disposable paper cups have petro-plastic coatings (to make them leak-proof) that negate our ability to recycle or biodegrade them (because that plastic lining cannot be separated from the paper). Paper cups with biobased inner linings are also not suitable for landfills as that lining can only break down in commercial composting facilities. Such cups can only be incinerated.
Furthermore, today’s paper cups are often mixed with chemicals that can potentially harm the environment. Some experts even suggest that the paper cups’ coatings may even pose a risk to human health, see PFAS.
Even worse, no recycled paper can be used for paper cups, which effectively means that new trees have to be chopped down for their production. That’s because a lot of recycled paper contains inks and other residues which are not allowed to come in contact with food.
Besides, the production of paper uses large amounts of water and usually involves the unethical disposal of waste water into the environment.