Debra Lynn Dadd

Starbucks paper cups

QUESTION:

I'm almost frightened to ask this, but do you, or anyone, know how safe or unsafe the "hot cups" are from Starbucks?? I love that they serve organic milk, but what happens to it once they pour it in those bleached paper cups?!

POSTED BY GAYLE :: MICHIGAN USA :: 02/20/2007 2:45 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I went down to Starbuck's and got a paper hot cup. Looks pretty white to me. But then I noticed that it says right on the cup, "Made with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber." So I called the corporate headquarters and was told that their coffee filters, paper cups, and paper food contianers are whitened with a "nontoxic bleach." I was glad to hear that about the coffee filters!

Now I know there are two processes for bleaching paper. One uses chlorine, which produces very toxic dioxin, which can leach into foods and beverages from paper packaging. The other uses oxygen bleach, and it doesn't form dioxin.

Given the information given to me by Starbuck's I would say they are aware of the dioxin problem with chlorine-bleached white paper cups, and are using a safely bleached cup.

Debra :-)


COMMENTS:

Was it the ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION who asked for a boycot on Starbucks as they use milk with BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE and DO NOT USE FAIR TRADE COFFEE/SHADE GROWN (cutting down rainforests to grow coffee?) miko

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: The latest from the Organic Consumer's Association is that Starbucks IS moving in the direction of going rBGH-free (see More on Starbucks Moving Toward rBGH (rBST)-free). Last December, Starbucks said they were currently 27% rBGH-free and will be 37% rBGH-free by January 2007. So they should be 37% rBGH-free now.

Starbucks is clearly aware of the issue and kudos to them for doing something about it. Just keep in mind that it takes time to make such a transition. They have nearly 6000 company stores and over 3000 licensed outlets. It requires sourcing rBGH-free dairy products across the country.

As for fair trade and shade grown coffee, read their "Commitment to Origins" on their website, and about their Organic Shade Grown Mexico Coffee and Conservation International: Starbucks Coffee Company.

Though Starbucks is not 100% organic, they are certainly offering some products that address the issues you mention.


POSTED BY MIKO :: TEXAS USA :: 02/23/2007 1:46 PM


It may be slightly different between the USA and Canada, but usually, the paper is not in direct contact with the hot liquid. Almost all commercially available paper coffee cups are lined with a thin layer of polyethylene - a plastic.

That layer of plastic makes the coffee cups really hard to market as a recyclable, as they are not pure paper, and also impossible to compost. Not to mention the oft-cited health implications of putting hot food and beverages in direct contact with plastics! Unless Starbucks is using a corn-based lining, I would not use those cups if I had a choice.

Most decent coffee places will have ceramic mugs available, but even if you are eating/drinking in, they will still by default use the disposable. If you specify loudly that you want it in a ceramic mug, the person preparing the coffee will hopefully not grab a disposable one. If you aren't eating in, get a travel mug - Starbucks sells several models, including steel lined and ceramic. You just hand them your mug and ask for your drink in that. In Canada, they give a 10 cent discount for using your own mug.



POSTED BY GILLIAN :: SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM AND THE UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH :: WWW.PR.UOGUELPH.CA/SUSTAIN :: ONTARIO CANADA :: 02/27/2007 3:14 PM


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