Which disposable cup between plastic and styrofoam harm the environment the most? Which is the most unhealthy to use for the Earth for humans and animals?

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  • $\begingroup$ Both harm the environment much more than necessary, so why use either? $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    May 20, 2019 at 7:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs in sustainability.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – arkaia
    Jun 13, 2019 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ The part of the question asking about which is most unhealthy to drink from is not about earth science but health or biological science. The other part, asking about the affect on the environment is about earth science. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Jun 14, 2019 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred corrected thanks $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Jun 14, 2019 at 5:27
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure if this is on-topic (note that it being on-topic somewhere else does not make it off-topic here). But I definitely don't see how it can be "primarily opinion-based". People should think more before reflexively voting to close. $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2019 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


I suppose the answer depends on total lifecycle emissions as well as landfill environmental cost. For plastic I assume PP or PETE. For styrofoam production is based on polystyrene so some styrene emissions.

For lifecycle costs, emissions for manufacturing as well as energy (coal or gas power plant) need to be considered. Also are either recycled and in what proportion and does that impact lifestyle costs. Not an easy question, or one I can quantify. For simplicity l would look at two questions- production emissions of the actual cup and or feedstocks and recyclability of each cup. According to this link styrofoam is not recyclable so I would guess plastic is not as bad. https://sciencing.com/styrofoam-vs-plastic-cups-12400119.html Here it says polystyrene is usually not recyclable locally. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/polystyrene-recycling.htm Here is a different perspective whose author suggests styrofoam lifecycle cost could be lower compared to some other options: https://daily.jstor.org/is-the-30-year-long-styrofoam-war-nearing-its-end/

Not exactly an answer but at least a start

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for answering. I was wandering if anyone cared. $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Jun 18, 2019 at 22:40

Styrofoam maybe better for the environment than even paper.

Plastic uses many chemical to create and recycling plastic causes more emissions as it is trucked then shipped to third world countries then more energy is used to recycle it.

Even paper cups or plates use more energy as most are coated with a thin layer of plastic as well paper products in most cases use chemicals to make into pulp and then bleach to make them white.

Styrofoam might even be less harmful than reusable porcelain or glass dishes from resourcing materials and shipping they also need to be washed using chemicals and hot water.

Styrofoam on the other hand saves energy as an insulator for hot coffee instead of double cupping a paper cup and also when it is put into the land fill it will not produce methane gas like paper and can be locally disposed of actually helping the environment.

Also Styrofoam can actually be recycled and turned back into oils though there is just not enough programs to manage recycling Styrofoam also recycling anything causes energy to be used again polluting the environment.

So what is the answer of what to do ?

Easy just blame all the problems on single use products like Styrofoam and plastic straws instead of on human consumption and the uncontrolled population explosion of uneducated morons having morons.


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