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WATERBURY, Vt. -- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) here and Stamford, Conn.-based International Paper (IP) today introduced the only all-natural paper hot-beverage cup available in consumer outlets nationally.
Unlike a conventional cup, which has an inner surface lined with a petroleum-based plastic to prevent leaking, the new cup is lined with a bio-plastic made from corn, a renewable source. After use, and under the proper conditions, the cup will break down into water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter.
"These cups, made from fully renewable resources, are part of our corporate commitment to environmental stewardship," said Green Mountain's v.p. of marketing, T.J. Whalen, in a statement.
Added International Paper v.p./g.m. foodservice business Austin Lance: "Consumers will notice no difference as they enjoy coffee with this cup -- but the environment will. It's the first in what will be a series of ecotainer products that reflect our company's concern for the environmental footprint we leave behind."
According to IP, in addition to the new cup, the ecotainer line is expected to include hot-beverage cup lids, Cup Buddies to protect consumers' hands from hot cups, food containers and lids, and paper cold cups and lids. The lids for the paper hot cups, slated for distribution in August, will be next in line for introduction. The timing on the rollout of the other items has not yet been decided.
The two companies have been collaborating on the cup for over a year, including a blind market trial of almost 5 million cups. In addition to being eco-friendly, the cup lining material is manufactured in a greenhouse-gas-neutral environment.
"Converting to this cup will mean that we consume nearly a quarter of a million pounds less of nonrenewable petrochemical materials every year," noted GMCR's v.p. environmental affairs, Paul Comey.
GMRC offers more than 100 selections (among them Fair Trade-certified organic coffees) that sell under the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Newman's Own Organics brands. The company annually donates at least 5 percent of pre-tax profits to social and environmental causes.