A take-away coffee cup that is handed to you at a coffee shop is a basic looking product, but many would be surprised by how much thought and effort goes into making that “simple” paper cup safe and environmentally friendly.
Paper cup layers and lining
The outer layer of a paper cup, i.e. the wall, is made of paperboard. This layer provides heat retention and insulation properties. In practice it keeps the beverage hot as long as possible, while still not being too hot to carry around comfortably.
For cold drinks, a single wall is enough. For hot drinks it is better to use double wall cups for extra heat protection. In addition to insulating heat, the second sleeve covering the cup allows to mix-and-match the embossing pattern and prints to create a variety of designs.
The paperboard is coated with a thin plastic lining, which is needed for safety reasons: it acts as a barrier to ensure food hygiene and to make the cup liquid-proof. Plastic is a suitable lining material because of its strength, resilience and excellent barrier properties. It is also very good in terms of material, energy and cost efficiency.
For a cup to be suitable to be in contact with food, the paperboard or the lining cannot currently be made of recycled material. To decrease carbon footprint, the plastic lining can be made of renewable, plant-based material instead of fossil based. For example, Huhtamaki Future Smart is a cup made of 100% renewable materials.
Paper cup manufacturing process at Huhtamaki
Huhtamaki’s paper cups are produced from virgin paperboard to guarantee food safety. The paperboard we use for paper cups is always traceable and comes from only certified and sustainably managed forests.
The manufacturing process:
- The foodservice paperboard is turned into reels.
- The reels are printed and cut into carefully measured cup sidewall blanks.
- The blanks are inserted into cup-forming machines that wrap the blanks into a cup shape and add the bottom.
- The seams of the cups are heated in order to make the cups liquid proof.
- Finally, the machine trims the cups into their final, round shape.
Watch this video on how paper cups are made:
Remember to recycle your cup!