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Developed in a joint technology effort led by DaniMer Scientific, the cups represent a string of commercial-scale “firsts” for NatureWorks PLA. These include pioneering extrusion-coating capabilities for the annually renewable resource-based resin, creating a coated paper liner for use in foodservice disposables and introducing a film application tolerant to higher heat.
“NatureWorks PLA is an alternative to petroleum-based polymers that is proving time and again that it can be used in new, valued applications such as an extrusion-coated liner for coffee cups,” said Snehal Desai, Global Commercial Director of NatureWorks LLC.
“Working with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, International Paper and DaniMer, we have been able to deliver an unprecedented solution for hot beverage cups on a commercial scale.”
GMCR and IP are promoting the cups nationally as an eco-friendly breakthrough. Branding the hot beverage cups as “ecotainer™,” the companies cite the renewable source of the coated paper liner, as well as the ability for the cups to fully degrade in industrial composting facilities, as key reasons for the switch. The companies are also highlighting the fact that consumers will experience the same cup performance.
Blind market testing of nearly 5 million cups, in advance of the formal introduction, proved significant consumer interest and acceptance. As a result, GMCR is now serving its signature coffee in the cups at most of its nationwide locations where coffee is available “to go.” The cups have recently been certified compostable by the Biodegradeable Products Institute.
“Consumers have come to know, love and depend on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for the high-quality product we offer,” said Michael Dupree, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for GMCR. “These new cups are yet another opportunity to innovate for the better. Backed by NatureWorks PLA, the ecotainers deliver it all. They have a better environmental footprint than petroleum-based cups, and without compromises.”
IP has also announced plans to make the NatureWorks PLA extrusion-coated hot beverage cups available to other customers later this fall. Given IP’s ability to deliver a proven moisture and vapor barrier sourced from annually renewable resources, company officials envision these new cups will become the industry standard.