In the last few years the Dutch government has selected sustainability as one of the cornerstones of it policy. This commitment is also reflected in their increased use of biobased products, which are wholly or partly derived from renewable resources i.e. plants. Following on from this, the government decided to take action against the use of non-biodegradable plastic cups, which are still commonly used in the workplace. Meanwhile, various companies and governments have already opted for the large-scale purchasing of sustainable types of hot (beverage) cups. The Dutch government did not lag behind and decided to purchase paper cups with a polylactic acid (PLA) coating. PLA is a biobased and compostable plastic. Until 2017, these PLA cups were nevertheless processed in a waste energy plant, in other words incinerated. For this reason, the government’s purchasers requested Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and TNO to carry out an environmental analysis. In this study, two sustainable end-of-life routes, after separate collection of the used PLA cups, were compared: recycling or digestion plus composting. The report has revealed that recycled cups have a better environmental performance.
(Unfortunately only available in Dutch)