Environmental Management

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 889–899 | Cite as

Reusable and disposable cups: An energy-based evaluation

  • Martin B. Hocking


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.

Key words

China Glass Hard plastic Paper Polystyrene foam cups 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. American Paper Institute. 1990. US pulp and paperboard industry's energy use, calendar year 1989, New York; cited by Wells (1991).Google Scholar
  2. Becker, F. H. 1980. Energiesparmassnahmen an Ofenanlagen der Keramikindustrie.Keramische Zeitschrift 32(6):310–313.Google Scholar
  3. Berry, R. S., and H. Makino. 1974. Energy thrift in packaging and marketing.Technology Review 76(4):32–43.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, R. S., T. V. Long, II, and H. Makino. 1975. Energy budgets, An international comparison of polymers and their alternatives.Energy Policy 3(2):144–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bevan, G., and A. W. Deakin. 1985. The British glass industry on the world scene. Reducing energy costs.Glass Technology. 26(2):67–70.Google Scholar
  6. Blakeslee. ca. 1993. Blakeslee model UC-1 undercounter dishwasher. Scarborough, Ontario. Leaflet, 2 pp., plus operating details from local sales and service representatives.Google Scholar
  7. Boustead, I., and G. F. Hancock. 1979. Handbook of industrial energy analysis. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 422 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Boyd, D. C., and D. A. Thompson. 1980. Glass. Pages 807–876in Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 3rd edition, vol 11. John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Chum, H. L., and A. J. Powers. 1992. Opportunities for the cost effective production of biobased materials, Pages 28–41in R. M. Rowell and T. P. Schultz (eds.), Emerging technologies for materials and chemicals from biomass, ACS Symposium Series No. 476, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  10. Energy Efficiency Office. 1990. Best practice program, Energy consumption guide no. 8, The firing of ceramic tableware, Harwell Laboratory, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK, November, pp. 4, 8.Google Scholar
  11. Environment Canada. 1984. Plastics in the waste stream: The need for and benefits of recycling. Environment Canada, Environment Protection Service—Ontario Region, Toronto, January, p. 20.Google Scholar
  12. Fenton, R. 1992. The Winnipeg packaging project: Report No. 2. Comparison of coffee cups. The University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, September, 20 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Gaines, L. L. 1981. Energy and materials use in the production and recycling of consumer goods packaging. Argonne National Laboratories, Argonne, Illinois, Report ANL/CNSV-TM-58, 28 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Harper, T. J., D. M. Jones, H. J. Highton, and J. J. Shea. 1982. The economics and practicality of a change to coal as an energy source for glassmaking.Glass Technology 23(1):44–51.Google Scholar
  15. Heather, R. P. 1982a. Energy conservation and cost reduction opportunities and potential for the glass container industry.Glass Technology 23(2):72–77.Google Scholar
  16. Heather, R. P. 1982b. Glass container manufacturing technology developed to provide cost reduction and energy conservation.J. Non-Crystalline Solids 52:605–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hobart Canada. ca. 1993a. Hobart WM-5 series dishwashers. North York, Ontario. Leaflet, 4 pp., plus operating details from local sales and service representatives.Google Scholar
  18. Hobart Canada. ca. 1993b. Hobart AM-14 and AM-14C dishwashers. North York, Ontario. Leaflet, 6 pp. plus operating details from local sales and service representatives.Google Scholar
  19. Hocking, M. B. 1991a. Paper versus polystyrene: A complex choice.Science 251:504–505.Google Scholar
  20. Hocking, M. B. 1991b. Relative merits of polystyrene foam and paper in hot drink cups: Implications for packaging.Environmental Management 15:731–747.Google Scholar
  21. Hocking, M. B. 1991c. Assessing the environmental impact of various packaging materials: some case studies. Pages 137–156in Proceedings, first international conference on packaging. 11–12 July, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 198 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Hocking, M. B. 1991d. Developing an environmental awareness through education. Pages 57–68in Proceedings, fourth annual electric energy forum, Victoria, BC 16–18 April, BC Hydro, Vancouver.Google Scholar
  23. Hocking, M. B. 1993. Life cycle inventories: Uncoated paper and moulded polystyrene cups. Pages 10–13in Seminar proceedings, full cost accounting and the environment, 19 March 1993, Victoria, BC, Evaluation, Economics and Laboratory Services Branch, BC Environment, Victoria.Google Scholar
  24. Holmes, W. H. 1987. Energy savings in the UK whitewares industry.Industrial Ceramics 7(1):7–13.Google Scholar
  25. Hunt, R.G. and Welch, R.O. 1974. Resource and environmental profile analysis of plastics and non-plastics containers (summary). Midwest Research Institute Project No. 3714-D (for The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., New York) Kansas City, Missouri, and cited by Fenton (1992).Google Scholar
  26. Kindler, H., and A. Nikles. 1979. Energiebedarf bei der Herstellung und Verarbeitung von Kunststoffen.Chemie-Ingenieur-Technik 51(11):1125–1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kindler, H., and A. Nikles. 1980. Energieufwand zur Herstellung von Werkstoffen-Berechnungs-grundsätze und Energieäquivalenz werte von Kunststoffen.Kunstoffe 70(12):802–807.Google Scholar
  28. Klingensmith, L. K. 1986. Direct melter performance improved by gas oxygen firing.Glass Industry 67(4):14–18.Google Scholar
  29. Kriz, M. 1981. K Otazce objektivniho hodnoceni racionalizace tavicich procesu (Problems of objective evaluation of glassmelting rationalization).Sklar a Keramik 31(11):310–314.Google Scholar
  30. McCubbin, N. 1991. Paper versus polystyrene: Environmental impact.Science 252(5011):1363.Google Scholar
  31. Miller, R. K. (ed.). 1983. Energy conservation and utilization in the glass industry. Fairmont Press Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, p. 7.Google Scholar
  32. Moyer Diebel. ca. 1993. Moyer Diebel 500 series warewashers. Jordan Station, Ontario. Leaflet, 2 pp. plus operating details from local sales and service representatives.Google Scholar
  33. OECD (International Energy Agency, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 1993. Energy statistics of OECD countries, 1990–1991, Paris, pp. 225–232.Google Scholar
  34. Perry, R. H., D. W. Green, and J. O. Maloney (eds.). 1984. Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook, 6th ed. McGraw-Hill, Toronto, pp. 9–1, 9–16, 9–18.Google Scholar
  35. Rice, P. M. 1987. Pottery analysis: A sourcebook, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 174.Google Scholar
  36. Ringwald, R. M. 1982. Energy and the chemical industry.Chemistry and Industry (London) 281–286.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, A. O. 1991. Booster heater sizing for commercial dishwashers, gas/oil. Leaflet B 011.0, A. O. Smith Enterprises Ltd., Stratford, Ontario, May.Google Scholar
  38. Thorpe, J. F., and M. A. Whitely. 1947. Thorpe's dictionary of applied chemistry, 4th ed., vol. V, Longman, Green, London, p. 159.Google Scholar
  39. Tooley, F. V. (ed.). 1974. The handbook of glass manufacture, vol I. Books for Industry, New York, p. 393.Google Scholar
  40. Turton, G., and R. D. Argent. 1988. How to use energy efficiently in container glass furnaces.Glass Industry 69(8):20–26 + 1 p.Google Scholar
  41. van Eijk, J., J. W. Nieuwenhuis, C. W. Post, and J. H. de Zeeuw. 1992. Reusable versus disposable. A comparison of the environmental impact of polystyrene, paper/cardboard, and porcelain crockery. Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, May, 163 pp.Google Scholar
  42. Wells, H. A. 1991. Paper versus polystyrene: Environmental impact.Science 252(5011):1363.Google Scholar
  43. World Resources, 1990–1991. A report by the World Resources Institute and the United Nations environment programme, United Nations, 1990. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 207, 209.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin B. Hocking
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations