What about those biodegradable and compostable coffee cups that are used as an alternative to divert paper-cup waste from the landfill?

According to Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, CEO & Founder of Un-School of Disruptive Design,  the perception that if something is made from natural material then it is going to have an ecological benefit is wrong. In fact, “it’s a total misconception”, Dr. Acaroglu explains. For example, when you look at city like New York, the systems that have been set up to facilitate our disposable society cannot handle composting programs at city-scale. Even in cities like San Francisco where they have a successful city-wide composting program, they are pulling out hard compostable plastics because they aren’t composting fast enough.

There are notable efforts in more broadly compostable cups, but none are competing at the speed of consumption and production, and rarely are these materials compatible with the municipal waste and recycling capacities.