UW News

January 8, 2009

It’s the real thing: Compostable Coca-Cola cup launched at UW

News and Information

The UW is the pilot site for the first compostable paper cup designed specifically for soft drinks.

The cup, developed for Coca-Cola fountain drinks, was created by International Paper in cooperation with the UW and Cedar Grove Composting. With the addition of the compostable cup, there is a potential that 150,000 fewer cups will go to landfills annually, and the University’s impact on the environment will be lessened.

“We are delighted to announce this step today in making UW operations more sustainable,” says UW President Mark Emmert. “The UW aims to be a leader in environmental practices and the education and research underlying them. We are happy to be a partner with Coca Cola, International Paper and Cedar Grove Composting, and are hopeful that this project will act as a model for other major institutions.”

The UW requested the cup in early 2007, and it is an important next step in the UW’s achievement of its environmental sustainability goals. It is the last big piece in UW Housing and Food Services’ compostable products line, which already includes compostable plates, utensils and hot drink cups. With the introduction of this cup, Housing and Food Services is meeting the city of Seattle’s requirement that all packaging must be compostable by July 2010— a year and a half early.

This cup may appear no different from other coated paper cups, but it is. In standard paper cups and containers, the paperboard is coated with a petrochemical-based plastic (polyethylene) to make it liquid resistant. Products by ecotainer are also made from plastic-coated paperboard, but the plastic used in this cup is made from plants. Both the fiber and coating used to make the cup come from renewable resources.

Although paper is generally biodegradable, the traditional coatings for making these products usually prevent them from meeting compostability requirements. This new material is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute to conform to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for municipal composting. In addition, cups are currently being put through the standard testing protocols for acceptance at Cedar Grove facilities.

More information about the new Coca-Cola cup and UW Housing and Food Services environmental sustainability efforts is available at:


Information about International Paper’s compostable products is available at:


Information about Coca-Cola® and its community involvement can be found at:


Cedar Grove’s Web site is at: