This has been a bear for us. Most cups are laminated paper or poly. The lamination is to prevent coffee from seeping into the paper and 1.) picking up the taste of paper and 2.) weakening the seams of the paper and increasing the risk of a consumer getting burned.
The plastics in the poly cups are not easily recycleable.
To a large degree, it is like the paper-plastic debate in supermarkets. At home, we use canvas bags picked up from trade shows, company give-aways and so on. The same principle has been working at work, too.
As an example, we sell into a lot of hospitals. One of the key selling points is that we give away cases of mugs to employees. Hospitals have to pay for waste removal, so if we can sell them on lower costs of waste disposal due to reusing mugs, then we have a win-win.
At one hospital, the mugs were given away at employee appreciation day and we got a couple of those Brother P-touch labeling machines so people could put their name and phone extension on it so it would be easier to keep track of whose mug was whose.
In the choice between reduce, recycle and reuse, we've found the best environmental answer in reuse.
...don't know if this helps but we found a company out of Wa. that does all recycled and recyclable wood products including liquid containers. I havent completely navigated the site myself, but I did find that they produce coffee cups with one of three options for coating....the company is called Weyerhaeuser. take a look and see if they have what you are looking for.
Yep. Cups are mini-billboards. A travel mug will be about 6 x 9 inches or 54 square inches of advertising space that people are going to see every day.
Come up with something that is cool/clever enough that it will be the favorite mug and has your brand facing out. Most people are right handed, so place you logo that other people are going to see - on the opposite side of the cup.
In that case, you get 54/2 or 27 inches of advertising space targeted at customer acquisition and 27 square inches of ad space for affirmation/reassurance of a current buyer.
My cost for an imprinted travel mug, 16 ounce stainless with plastic inside was 3.24 each. I offered a promotion of a 16 ounce mocha, latte or capp for $4.95 with free travel mug and sent them out there....plus lots of people brought them in daily saving me cups - saving the environment cups. I don't really think I lost a dime on these mugs and will do it again next winter.
Right now I'm ordering 500 plastic reusable 24 ounce cups for our cold drinks...imprinted they are about 60 cents each and I'll do the same thing with them at 4.95....
I liken these to free advertising and cost cutters...when people bring them back in I save about 12 cents on the transation by not giving them another cup and lid...
I'm trying to answer this very question as part of an OpenIDEO challenge. If you Google "OpenIDEO Cuppuccino" (Cup... not Cap...). I should be the top result, but you can also find my first thread on here. The aim is to come up with a solution that reduces plastic waste entering the environment. The solution I've proposed makes the cup, lid and sleeve all one unit - whilst it has to be made from recycled plastics at the minute, the aim is to use biodegradable plastics when technology catches up. Currently biodegradable plastics can't handle the heat. I'm proposing a design that allows for reusability at a cost comparable with disposable cups, lids and sleeves - but can also be recycled. Being made of one material makes it easier to recycle, compared to today's mixed-material designs.
Do take a look and let me know what you think. I need feedback before I go and invest loads of money into something you guys think is crazy