Next-Generation Paper Cups Resist Heat & Acidity, Won't Release Plasticizers

A new type of paper cup developed in Taiwan not only stands up to high temperatures, acids and alkaline solutions, it does so without releasing dangerous plasticizers into the liquids it holds. Your double half-caf venti low-fat mochaccino just got healthier!

The news gets even better: the next-generation paper cups are microwave-safe, their decomposition rate can exceed 97%, and they're 40% lighter than comparable ordinary paper cups. Credit Taiwanese cup company owner Chang Ching-wen (shown above with some of his company's products) with spearheading development of this revolutionary new paper cup, all on his own initiative without any coercion by regulatory authorities.

The story begins in 2003 when Taiwan's government, heeding warnings against the dangers of plasticizers like Bisphenol A, introduced restrictions on the use of plastic shopping bags and disposable plastic tableware. Chang saw which way the wind was blowing and he also knew something most consumers weren't and aren't aware of – most paper cups at the time employed plasticizers in their manufacturing process.

These plasticizers can be released when the paper cups come in contact with very hot, acidic or alkaline beverages. What's more, the recycling rate for paper cups has always been very low and toxic plasticizers can leach out of these cups when disposed of in landfills.

Rather than wait for the regulatory shoe to drop, Chang spurred research into the development of high temperature, acid and alkaline-resistant paper cups that will not release plasticizers either when used or when disposed. He also put his money where his mouth is, investing over NT$200 million ($6.81 million) to develop a new type of plasticizer-free paper pulp. Cups made from the pulp will resist temperatures up to 130°C (266°F).

Chang has obtained patents for his next-generation cups from up to 100 countries and a growing number of drink and coffee shop chains, including Starbucks, have switched over to the new cups. At press time Chang's company is supplying customers with up to 10 million cups monthly and that figure is sure to rise, since Chang's company supplies up to 60% of the Taiwanese paper cup market. With Taiwan alone using roughly 200 million paper cups each month, Chang's heat-resistant paper cups are, well, really hot right now! (via Want China Times)