According to waste management specialists, Kevin Vibert and Tim Michael, paper cups, even if they’re labeled compostable, are often coated with a substance that prevents the paper cups from breaking down. Paper cups also lack strong insulation properties, thus, in order to keep your hands from burning, paper cups usually require a cardboard sleeve or additional material to keep your hands protected. Using two average-weight polyethylene plastic-coated paper cups at once by stacking them can create over twice as much solid waste by volume, over five times as much solid waste by weight, and nearly twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the use of a single average-weight polystyrene foam cup. [i]
Toronto-based independent theater, The Revue Cinemas, consulted with Vibert and Michael about what can and cannot be recycled.
Vibert and Michael advised The Revue Cinemas:
• To use Styrofoam™ (polystyrene foam) cups for hot drinks. Vibert said paper cups cannot be thrown into the recycling bins without contaminating the entire paper stream because of their wet-strength coatings.
• Paper plates are compostable and go in the green bin. Foam plates are recyclable. Other types of plastic plates go in the garbage along with plastic cutlery.
• Plastic cup lids and straws go in the garbage.
• Paper popcorn bags go in the green bin because they are usually contaminated with butter, oil and left over corn.
• Paper towels and napkins go in the green bin.
• Paper brochures, paper schedules, drink bottles and cans go in the blue bin.
Another theater company working to create a more sustainable environment is Cineplex. Cineplex is the largest motion picture exhibitor in Canada and owns, leases or has a joint-venture interest in 134 theatres with 1,445 screens serving approximately 69 million guests annually. Cineplex has a team working to create the ultimate recycling experience.
Cineplex recently conducted a pilot project with a sorting facility, BFI Canada. BFI Canada collects the materials on-site and sorts it off-site. If the pilot program works, it might be the most effective way to recycle rather than the hit-and-miss efforts of the moviegoers and staff.
“If we can make this work, that will be terrific,” says Pat Marshall, spokesperson for Cineplex.
Cineplex and The Revue both consulted with experts to create more sustainable environments. With any new program an educational component should be put in place for staff and customers.
Source: The Star
[i] Franklin Associates, Ltd., Final Peer-Reviewed Report: Life Cycle Inventory of Polystyrene Foam, Bleached Paperboard, and Corrugated Paper Foodservice Products (Prepared for the Polystyrene Packaging Council, March 2006), pp. 2-7, 2-23, 2-43, 2-60