, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 889-899

Reusable and disposable cups: An energy-based evaluation

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A group of five different types of reusable and disposable hot drink cups have been analyzed in detail with respect to their overall energy costs during fabrication and use. Electricity generating methods and efficiencies have been found to be key factors in the primary energy consumption for the washing of reusable cups and a less important factor in cup fabrication. In Canada or the United States, over 500 or more use cycles, reusable cups are found to have about the same or slightly more energy consumption, use for use, as moulded polystyrene foam cups used once and then discarded. For the same area paper cups used once and discarded are found to consume less fossil fuel energy per use than any of the other cup types examined. Details of this analysis, which could facilitate the comparative assessment of other scenarios, are presented.