While bringing your own reusable mug is the least wasteful way to pick up a cup of coffee, paper cups are getting a little greener, too. Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks announced an exciting new product today: EarthSleeve ™, a new kind of hot-cup holder that will reduce the use of paper, and save as many as 100,000 trees, according to the company.
EarthSleeve ™, which was developed just for Starbucks by LBP Manufacturing and Henkel, is a proprietary product that’s only available where the famous green siren presides. Here’s what the press release has to say about it:
…This new products’ decrease of raw fiber material by 34% and increase of post-consumer content by 25% does so without sacrificing performance or function. With nearly three billion hot cup sleeves produced in the United States in 2011 and Starbucks representing nearly half of the marketplace, this material evolution will have a substantial impact on the packaging industry.
Due to increased demand by consumers and eco-advocates, Starbucks has been pretty open about their push toward more sustainable practices, both in stores and in their shipping and receiving. They’ve developed cups that are made of post-consumer content, curbed the supremely wasteful practice of double-cupping, limited water use practices that lead to excessive waste, and of course, they offer a 10-cent discount for customers who use their own cups as incentive. They’ve also been working toward finding a truly recyclable single-use, to-go container, though that, along with increasing recycling in stores, has proven to be difficult.
Still, to-go coffee cups and sleeves are responsible for a lot of waste at plenty of shops that aren’t Starbucks, so the Starbucks EarthSleeve ™ still isn’t a perfect solution. Bringing your own mug, or reusing your paper cup (if, say, the coffee shop in question is right downstairs from your office) a few times is still a less-wasteful, more green option–regardless of where you get your coffee. But this is a step in the right direction.
The sleeve makes its debut in the US and Canada today, but will eventually be available for global use.
Image via Miss Turner on Flickr