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[GreenYes] Re: How much water to produce a styrofoam cup?

try looking at

EcoTip: Coffee cups - spilling the beans November 19, 2004 10:05 AM -
Which is the most Treehugger to drink one's java from? Ceramic,
stryofoam, paper? Ceramic, you scream - how can someone be so dumb as
to ask that? Some serious scientific and academic rigour has been
applied to just this question. By no less of a studious group than the
Dutch Ministry of Environment. Their conclusions? Not what you might
first suspect. You see, its like "paper, scissors, rock". In some
circumstances one might win over the others but then, can in turn, be
trumped itself.

It seems that a ceramic cup is a real greedy vessel when it comes to
energy and water consumption and not much better as a contributor to
air pollution and solid waste.

With energy you'd have to use the ceramic cup 640 times before it would
equal a polystyrene cup and 294 times to equal a paper/cardboard one.
With air pollution it takes 1,800 uses to beat the polystyrene and 48
to thrash the paper/cardboard. Likewise you would have to drink 126 and
99 cups respectively for the ceramic to compete with polystyrene and
paper/cardboard on the waste issue. And water? Sorry, just the use of a
ceramic cup totals more than the entire life cycle water consumption of
the other two. Grim, huh? Ah, but like a good movie, there is always a
twist at the end.

In this story the 'good guy' ceramic cup wins hands down in the
functional use category. Designed for a long, durable life it can be
used for well over 3,000 slurping sessions. Whereas the other cups are
intended for trivial single use. Thus their lightweight, non-durable,
disposable construction means they can perform well, measured against
the other environmental criteria.

This was all worked out using a method called LCA (they're everywhere,
these blasted 3 letter acronyms) or Life Cycle Assessment/Analysis. It
tracks the full life of a product or service from its birth to the end
of its useful life. The material's extraction, fabrication, transport
and distribution, use and disposal. It is not an exact science and
results depend greatly on where the boundaries are drawn. But it does
help add some cold objective vision to often emotional issues. For more
info on LCA visit ::PRé Consultants, who have been at the cutting edge
for years.

In the meantime keep on using your ceramic cup, safe in the knowledge
that over the long term, it is the TH choice. Ed note: And heck, why
not buy one of TreeHugger's founders most excellent ceramic cup that
looks like a paper cup (see picture) at [by

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