An idea to reduce paper wastage: Alternatives for paper cup
SAP is a company that focuses on saving the environment for future generations. It is evident from the number of steps taken by the company, like planting trees, creating software to document Carbon foot prints. It has a software called Environmental-compliance-software. It encourages employees to use cycle for travelling to work. Its Carbon foot prints is very low compared to many companies.
In 2009, we changed from paper cups to porcelein mugs in our pantry, where we have tea. It has led to a saving of numerous number of trees a year.
Below is a good eco-friendly reason to use Styrofoam cups instead of paper cups. Or better each employee can carry a personal Clay cup.
Over 6.5 million trees were cut down to make 16 billion paper cups used by US consumers in 2006. That is every 2461 cups need 1 tree.
SAP has 50000 employees. Considering that each employee uses 2 paper cups a day, SAP uses 1 Lakh paper cups per day. That is 36.5 million cups a year.
Considering 2461 cups per tree, SAP employees has the potential to save approximately 14832 trees a year by using a eco-friendly and cost effective alternative to paper cups.
Very little recycled paper is used to make paper cups because of contamination concerns and regulations. Because most paper cups are coated with plastic/wax, both composting and recycling of paper cups is uncommon.
The paper cup will still be a paper cup 20 years from now in a land fill. It turns out that Styrofoam is an excellent material for recycling.
PE is a petroleum based coating on paper cups that can slow down the process of biodegradation. PLA is a biodegradable bio-plastic coating used on some paper cups. PLA is a renewable resource and makes paper cups more compostable, whereas PE is not renewable and is not compostable.
In 2006, 16 billion paper cups used 4 billion gallons of water and resulted in 253 million pounds of waste. Every tree used for paper cups is also removed from the ecosystem and can no longer absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen or filter groundwater. Trees are used to make the bleached virgin paperboard that is used to make most paper cups.
A study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking shows that making a paper cup uses as much petroleum or natural gas as a polystyrene cup. Plus, the paper cup uses wood pulp. The Canadian study said, ‘The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup.’ And because the paper cup uses more raw materials and energy, it also costs 2.5 times more than the plastic cup.
A study of one paper coffee cup with sleeve (16 ounce) shows that the CO2 emissions is about .11 kilograms (.25 pounds) per cup with sleeve – including paper from trees, materials, production and shipping. The loss of natural habitat potential from the paper coffee cup (16 ounce) with a sleeve is estimated to be .09 square meters (.93 square feet).
Thus the best alternative to save15000 trees by SAP employees is to use a personal clay mug by each employee, the way Dell uses. This could save 1 million dollars a year. Another alternative is to use Styrofoam which I do not recommend, but it can save some trees for sure.
If this example is taken up by all the companies, imagine what could be the saving in life of trees.
For more information, please read SAP website, Wikipedia. Another source of information is Appropedia.