Now that I have your attention, I must admit that we are not really going to talk about the rules of the popular party game. Most likely, you already know the general idea of the game: to fill red Solo cups with beer and throw Ping-Pong balls into your opponent’s cups while they are trying to do the same to yours. By the end of the evening, the “losers” end up drinking all the beer from the cups that once had a Ping-Pong ball in it, minus whatever was spilled on the table.
I would now like to turn your attention to the after-party clean-up: What do you do with all those plastic cups that smell of stale beer the next morning? The answer is an easy one if you’re into lessening your environmental impact: you recycle them. The little triangle that you see on the bottom of those cups means they are a recyclable item. All you need to do is drop them into your curbside recycling container and your work is done, right?
In theory, the Solo cups are recyclable. The triangle on the bottom of all recyclables is known as the resin identification code, and it indicates the type of plastic used in manufacturing. Solo cups are made of No. 6 thermoplastic polystyrene, a moldable plastic that can be found in everything from disposable razors, to CD cases, to Styrofoam containers.
Although they are considered recyclable, very few centers and curbside pickups actually accept items made from this type of plastic because they are difficult to recycle. The next stop then is the landfill where No. 6 plastic takes about 50 years to break down.
We don't want to pick on Solo cups alone. There are a lot of recyclables, a lot of challenging products, and a lot of choices about who takes what. But, with a little education, you can still keep your personal commitment to environmental sustainability. Earth911, for example, is a great website with information, including a search engine to learn about different recycling solutions by product and zip code. Don't you agree that to lesson environmental impact, it's worth the effort to learn a little more about proper recycling?
If you’d like to read more, please check out my column at Promo Marketing Blog
Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 30 years. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He is the executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the industry’s only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant products. Follow Jeff on Twitter, or reach out to him at [email protected].