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Published Sep. 29, 2021

Whether you’re entertaining at a backyard barbeque or pouring a cup of joe in the break room, a disposable cup makes it easy to serve yourself or your guests in style. But not all cups are created equal. Beyond the age-old question of paper or plastic, there are considerations of what beverages you’re serving and who’s using them. Disposable cups are typically constructed of Styrofoam, plastic, or paper. That means you can recycle some used containers, and they’re inexpensive. Or at least likely less expensive than the cost of replacing a broken glass. Here’s

With the holidays just a few months away, you’re probably already beginning to think about hosting events and parties for family, friends, and colleagues. What you don’t want to think about is how much of a pain it’ll be to clean up afterwards. 

By loading up on disposable cups – and yes, there are eco-friendly versions – you’ll be able to stay present and enjoy the party instead of watching your sink stack up with dirty dishes. While we hesitate to recommend anything that is a single-use plastic given the state of our planet in this day and age, there are tons of disposable cups on the market that are compostable or biodegradable. 

The following are our favorite picks, and we think they’ll be yours too.

Methodology 

I’ve been in various situations where I’ve seen mass amounts of plastic be used and tossed without a thought. Those situations mainly include plastic cups, straws, lids, and the like. So when I was choosing the top disposable cups, I knew I was going to limit my options to cups that were entirely biodegradable and compostable. Some of the criteria I took into account are as follows:

Material: This is key to understanding if what you’re using is actually fully compostable. You’ll see that many of the options include bamboo fibers, woods, and PLA. 

Brand: I appreciate when a brand has taken steps to actively manufacture and market eco-friendly products as a whole. Most of these brands don’t only offer biodegradable cups, but also offer things like biodegradable lids, silverware, etc. 

Design: While disposable cups will never be as durable or long-lasting as reusable cups, they should still get you through a few drinks without disintegrating. These cups all are made with structural integrity that will get the job done well.

Recommendations: Best Disposable Cups

Best Overall: Disposable Compostable Coffee Cups with cPLA Lids, Stirrers, and Sleeves

The Total Package

These disposable compostable coffee cups by LB Living Balance come complete with secure-fit lids, stirrers, and integrated sleeves – all of which are plant-based and compostable.

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Why It Made The Cut We love how these bio-cups promote environmental awareness and sustainability while maintaining the structural integrity needed to store hot or cold drinks. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 12 fluid ounces (also available in 16 oz)
  • Quantity: 100 pack
  • Materials: CPLA (lids), sugarcane bagasse and wood pulp (cups), birch wood (stirrers)

Pros:

  • Completely plant-based 
  • Aesthetically appealing design 
  • Perfect to take on-the-go thanks to secure lid

Cons:

  • Double wall feels thicker in your hands, which some people don’t like

The Disposable Compostable Coffee Cups are the perfect option for you to take on the go, or use for a party or special occasion. Available in a 100-pack, the cups fit up to 12 fluid ounces and come with eco-friendly lids and stirrers. 

Every part of this package is biodegradable and compostable: the cups are made from sugarcane bagasse and wood pulp and lined with a heat resistant, leak-proof plant-based PLA; the lids are made from crystallized poly lactic acid, a biomaterial derived from corn starch; and the stirrers are made from 100% birch wood.

Plus, the integrated sleeve design allows for double the insulation capacity, and the lids fit securely to ensure you don’t experience unnecessary leaks.

Best Value: Repurpose 100% Compostable Plant-Based Clear Cold Cup

Affordable & Eco-Friendly

The 16oz Repurpose Plant-Based Clear Cold Cup is USDA biopreferred, BPI certified, and 100% commercially compostable.

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Why It Made The Cut You’ll forget that you’re using a completely sustainable product when drinking out of a Repurpose cup; they mimic the go-to single use plastic you see everywhere, yet are completely safe for the environment!

Specs:

Capacity: 16 oz

Quantity: 50 pack (also available as 150 pack)

Materials: vegetable-based ink, bamboo, PLA

Pros:

  • Female-founded company with strong mission in sustainability
  • Certified green business
  • Durable and lightweight 

Cons:

  • Some people have noted they melt in very high heat and direct sunlight

The Repurpose Plant-Based Cold Cup fits 16 oz of liquid and is available in a 50 pack for less than 34 cents per cup – and also in a 150 pack at less than 25 cents per cup. This makes it an extremely affordable way to replace any single-use plastics you may have lying around your house. 

The cold cup is part of Repurpose’s Essentials line, which is completely compostable and plant-based. The business is certified green and is making strides in disrupting the plastics industry for a more sustainable future. 

These cups will be broken down in a composting facility in 90 to 180 days – note that it’s important to take it to such a facility and that home composting is not recommended. Further, they should not be left in extreme heat or direct sunlight for too long, as they have been known to melt in such circumstances. 

Best for Hot Drinks: JAYEEY Disposable Bamboo Paper Cups

Made from Paper

The JAYEEY disposable cups are made out of bamboo fiber that is food grade and BPA-safe and can hold hot beverages up to 221°F.

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Why It Made The Cut You’ll forget that you’re using a completely sustainable product when drinking out of a Repurpose cup; they mimic the go-to single use plastic you see everywhere, yet are completely safe for the environment!

Specs:

  • Capacity: 16 oz
  • Quantity: 50 pack (also available as 150 pack)
  • Materials: vegetable-based ink, bamboo, PLA

Pros:

  • Female-founded company with strong mission in sustainability
  • Certified green business
  • Durable and lightweight 

Cons:

  • Some people have noted they melt in very high heat and direct sunlight

The Repurpose Plant-Based Cold Cup fits 16 oz of liquid and is available in a 50 pack for less than 34 cents per cup – and also in a 150 pack at less than 25 cents per cup. This makes it an extremely affordable way to replace any single-use plastics you may have lying around your house. 

The cold cup is part of Repurpose’s Essentials line, which is completely compostable and plant-based. The business is certified green and is making strides in disrupting the plastics industry for a more sustainable future. 

These cups will be broken down in a composting facility in 90 to 180 days – note that it’s important to take it to such a facility and that home composting is not recommended. Further, they should not be left in extreme heat or direct sunlight for too long, as they have been known to melt in such circumstances.

Best with Lids: Avant Grub Paper Coffee Cups And Dome Lids 

Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee

This set of biodegradable cups and lids from Avant Grub are sturdy and recyclable, feature tapered sides for easy holding, and have rolled rims to hold the matching lid in place.

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Why It Made The Cut We appreciate how the company assures a “No-Nonsense Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee”, which speaks to their confidence in the product, and is verified by customer reviews of their service.  

Specs:

  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Quantity: 100 pack
  • Materials: PLA; paper

Pros:

  • Matching lids allows for a more secure fit
  • Great customer service
  • BPI certified as biodegradable and compostable
  • Plant based liner holds temperatures up to 200°F

Cons:

  • Leaf design may not be attractive to everyone
  • Lids may break if not handled gently

If you are looking for a fully biodegradable and compostable cup with matching lids, the Avant Grub Paper Coffee Cups And Dome Lids have got you covered. You won’t have to worry about spilling coffee or tea as these lids can securely fit onto the cup, which has a rolling rim to keep it in place. The plant-based liner is heat resistant and can hold even your hottest drinks, which is ideal for a chillier day.

Speaking of chilly weather, if you’re planning a fall festivity, this cup’s leaf design may be just what you’re looking for. That said, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea so do keep that in mind as a style factor. Also, do note that the lids are known to break if handled quickly, so while they do work when secured, you’ll want to be as gentle as possible while attaching them to the cup. 

Best Bulk Buy: Planet+ 100% Compostable PLA Laminated Hot Cup

For Large-Scale Events

The Planet+ 100% Compostable PLA Laminated Hot Cup is double sealed allowing you to hold hot beverages without hurting your hands nor having the cup break, and is fully compostable within 60 to 90 days.

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Why It Made The Cut If you’re looking to buy in bulk, go with Planet+ because they deliver high-quality products that are fully compostable and ring in at 13 cents per cup. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 12 oz (also available in 4oz, 8oz, and 16oz)
  • Quantity: 1000 pack
  • Materials: Premium SFI paperboard; NatureWorks Ingeo biopolymer

Pros:

  • Double sealed seams create solid structural integrity
  • Withstands boiling water
  • 100% USDA certified biobased product

Cons:

  • Matching lids exist, but are sold separately

If you have a large-scale event or occasion coming up, make your life much easier and the planet much greener by getting a 1000-pack of compostable cups from Planet+. At only 13 cents per cup, they are almost the same price as regular single-use plastics, yet are completely environmentally friendly. 

The cups are double sealed, which helps the cup to stay intact while also helping you to not burn your hand. The lining is derived from all natural plant sugars, and the cup is 100% USDA certified as a biobased product. 

Keep in mind that the cup is meant to be composted in a municipal or commercial facility, not at home. If you want matching compostable lids, they are available to buy separately. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Disposable Cup

Going green isn’t just a fad, it’s a necessity! The next time you are getting ready for a large event, a family reunion, or any other meeting where you don’t want to worry about washing the dishes, replace plastics with eco-friendly alternatives: it’s a super easy step to help out the environment in a huge way. 

In terms of the specifics of disposable cups, you’ll want to consider if you just need the cups themselves, or also some helpful accessories like lids, stirrers, and sleeves. Consider what types of drinks you’ll be serving. Not all cups are designed equally, and while cold drinks should work fine in hot drink cups, the reverse is not always true. Stick to cold cups for cold drinks only. 

Look into the capacity the cup holds – typically a 12oz or 16oz will do the trick, unless you’re serving small tastes in which case a 4oz or 8oz will work. And of course, think about if you want to buy in bulk, which is much more inexpensive than buying a bunch of smaller packages. 

FAQs

Q: Are paper cups better than plastic?

The short answer is yes. Paper, unlike plastic, is biodegradable, breaking down over time without harming the environment. 

Q: How much do biodegradable cups cost?

While biodegradable cups will be slightly more costly than plastic cups, they are still quite accessible. Most cups ring in between 13 cents and 50 cents per cup. Buy in bulk if you want a better value!

Q: How long do biodegradable cups take to decompose?

Biodegradable cups decompose at a rate similar to other biodegradable materials wherever they are – a landfill, garbage bag, or composting facility. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 80 to 180 days.

Final Thoughts

Disposable cups make our lives so much easier, but in 2021, we’re all about the eco-friendly versions. You won’t go wrong with the Disposable Compostable Coffee Cups with cPLA Lids, Stirrers, and Sleeves if you’re in need of the whole shabang. If you need to buy in bulk, we recommend the Planet+ 100% Compostable PLA Laminated Hot Cup.

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