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[GreenYes] Environmental impacts of one trip vs reusable cups
Several weeks ago, I had asked for some information on the comparative
environmental impacts of various types of disposal and reusable plates.
Several people had asked that I share what information was gathered.

I wasn't able to find the data for plates, but did just come across a recent
document giving an analysis of the environmental impacts for one trip vs
reusable plastic cups used at sporting events.

The report was done in Denmark by their equivalent of the EPA, and a 5 page
summary of the report (Miljøvurdering af plastdrikkebægre - Environmental
Evaluation of Plastic Drink Containers) is given in English on the web page:

http://www.mst.dk/default.asp?Sub=http://www.mst.dk/udgiv/publikationer/2001
/87-7944-647-7/html/samfat_eng.htm

In the study -- which includes test uses of the reuseable container at
several sporting events with a deposit to encourage its return -- the
environmental impact is expressed as a single number formed by an aggregate
of various enviornmental components, using a computer model developed by the
Institute for Product Development at the Danish Technical Institute. With
this parameter, it is shown that the refillable cups are environmentally
better than the one-use cups, if the reusable cups are used more than twice
in one case and over five times in another case. It was found that these
return rates were easily achieved at sporting events. 

For those who would like to see the actual data (in Danish), they are also
available on the Internet. From the above site, click on the tab for
"contents" and go to appendix 3, where the LCA data tables are located.

With best wishes for the New Year,

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, Wisconsin


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