Why Single-Use Plastic Cups Are A Thing of the Past

The story of waste plastic and the damage it causes to the environment has been big news in the last year or so. And it’s something that we, at MIW Water Cooler Experts, feel passionate about. We’ve worked hard to spread the message, employing interns to help with local awareness. And we’ve already championed the water bottle refill station, sponsoring the roll-out of free-to-use drinking fountains and bottle fillers across London, via the #OneLess project and London Drinking Fountain Fund. But the thing is, there’s only so much change that can be made with bottle fillers – not everyone carries a reusable bottle with them, but everyone needs to drink. So now, we’re very proud to announce that we have become the UK’s first water cooler company to stop selling plastic cups. We’re selling paper ones instead, and they’re 100% compostable.

Millions of plastic cups are used every day in the UKHalf a trillion single-use cups are manufactured every year. One hundred billion of them end up in landfill. Why? Often because the mixed components make it impossible for them to be recycled. Even the majority of apparently paper cups have a plastic lining which is almost impossible to separate from the paper and can never be recycled, making them no better than fully plastic options. And once that plastic gets into landfill, it just stays there. For centuries. That’s why we’ve replaced all MIW water cooler cups with PLA paper alternatives.

What Is PLA?

PLA (Polylactic acid) is a form of biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic made from plant starch – typically corn, sugarcane or cassava roots. It provides all the qualities of plastic – it is water tight, versatile, mouldable and non-toxic – but, crucially, it is totally biodegradable. This means that from now on, all the water cooler cups supplied by MIW will be completely compostable. And while there aren’t that many businesses with a healthy compost heap on the premises, it does mean that any cups that make it into landfill will only be there for a very short time before decomposition takes place. And this is decomposition that won’t leave any micro-plastics, or any other form of pollutant, to corrupt our ecosystem.

Why the Move to PLA Paper Cups?

Last year, MIW sold circa 2,000 boxes of plastic cups. This equates to around 4 million individual pieces of plastic. And how hypocritical is it to talk the talk on reducing plastic waste, while all the while facilitating other people’s bad habits?

‘For us, this move is really important to MIW’s corporate social responsibility,’ MIW’s founder and director, Mike Winter, explains. ‘We don’t want to be responsible for the damage that single-use plastic is doing to the planet, so it’s down to us to find a viable alternative.

‘We know that our customers are busy. Most of them don’t have time to research the spec of their consumables, so we’ve done it for them. In being the first UK water cooler supplier to completely remove plastic cups from our catalogue, we’re hoping to facilitate a sea change in the industry, removing plastic from as many aspects of the business as possible.

‘While PLA paper cups are still not suitable for recycling, their compostability makes them the next best thing. ‘

The Bottom Line

Doing the right thing for the environment has always seemed to come with a financial cost in business. As managers, we often have the best of intentions, but the bottom line can’t always be ignored. Which is why decisions, like reducing plastic waste by adopting the use of paper watercooler cups, are often deferred. The good news here is that the recent surge in public interest in preventing plastic waste has led to a concurrent surge in manufacturing. This means that while two years ago a single box of PLA paper cups would have cost £70, now the MIW price is almost half that, at £39.99 per box.

As an added bonus, the cups can be used with hot beverages as well as cold, providing a single, environmentally-friendly solution for all your vending needs.

‘We’re really excited about this move,’ concludes Mike. ‘As a company, we’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service and lessen our environmental impact. In helping our customers to reduce plastic waste in this way, we’re trying to do both. If other water cooler companies follow our example, then more’s the better.’


MIW Water Cooler Experts provide a next day delivery service on all water cooler consumables throughout the UK.