Leaching Microplastics in Your Coffee

Our biggest fears have been confirmed. The data is in. When hot water is poured into a plastic lined cup… what do you think happens to the contents of your super smooth and delicious latte?

In a recent study by Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur researchers set out to evaluate the degradation of plastic lined films in single-use cups. They found that 4 out of 5 disposable paper cups were lined with HDPE grade of plastic. In the experiment scientists poured hot water (85–90 °C) and left the samples for 15 minutes.

Using fluorescence microscopy they discovered that approximately 25,000 micron-sized microplastic particles leached into one cup of water (100 ml). The analysis also found the presence of heavy metals—iron, chromium, and cadmium in particular—in the cup’s plastic lining. The report suggests that the Ingestion of microplastics, ions, and heavy metals regularly while using these single-use products can expose us to potential health risks in the future, like cancer and infertility.

According to Cleanup Australia  2,700,000 paper coffee cups thrown out every day! Volunteers report that 10% of rubbish they identify as the paper used to make coffee cups and are shocked to find out that they are plastic lined – which means they are potentially even more damaging to our environment and health.

Our friends from BioPak say that up to 90% of single use hot beverage cups end up in landfill – equating to around 60,000 kg of plastic per annum. So it really is time to take action!

If you one of those people who have been on the fence about starting up a reusable cup habit then this could be your moment to rethink – if not for the environment but for your own health. Or maybe you have that one friend, who needs pushing off the fence who could do with hearing these facts. Just make sure when you push them off the fence they are not sipping on a hot coffee as they might burn themselves! 

You can read the full report here in the Journal of Hazardous Materials