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Types of Disposable Cups

Types of Disposable Cups

From practical to purposeful, disposable cups come in many styles, sizes, and colors. Whether you're looking for ways for your restaurant to go green or just trying to find the cup that fits your needs, the wide variety of options available can make it difficult to choose. In this guide, we'll investigate the different types of disposable cups and what sets them apart.

Shop All Disposable Cups

Use the following links to learn more about the types of disposable cups:

  1. Types of Plastic Cups
  2. Types of Paper Cups
  3. Types of Foam Cups
  4. Eco-Friendly Terms
  5. Disposable Cup Materials
  6. Cup Accessories
  7. Customizing Disposable Cups

Types of Plastic Cups

Plastic cups lend themselves to a wide range of applications. Whether you're looking for a dependable vessel for serving smoothies or a versatile cup to fit an extensive drink menu, these cups are an excellent addition to your workplace. Some of the most common types of disposable plastic cups are as follows:

Compostable cup holding a smoothie

Compostable Cups

Compostable plastic cups represent a green and eco-friendly option for your business. Our 100% compostable cold cups are made of PLA corn plastic and offer complete product visibility for enhanced marketability. These cups feature rolled rims and come in several different shapes and sizes. Each cup is temperature tolerant from 40 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to serve a wide range of drinks.

Polystyrene cup holding soda

Polystyrene Cups

Available in both solic color and clear designs, polystyrene cups are made from a high-impact material that is sturdy, shatterproof, and flexible. These cups feature smooth rolled rims and come in several different styles, sizes, and shapes, allowing you to choose the cup that best fits your preferences. They're built to withstand your most popular party games and are the most popular type of plastic cup in party settings. Like most disposable plastic cups, polystyrene cups are only designed for use with cold beverages.

Eco-friendly cup holding tea

Eco-Friendly Cups

These cups offer a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic cups. Typically made from post-consumer recycled content, eco-friendly plastic cups allow you to serve your signature drinks while embracing an environmentally-conscious mindset. Available in several different styles, these cups lend themselves to a wide range of beverages.

Heavy-duty hard wall cup holding soda

Heavy-Duty Hard Wall Cups

For a high-class option with the convenience of disposability, turn to hard wall plastic cups. These cups have rigid walls that make them break- and shatter-resistant, giving them a heavy-duty feel. From festive colorful tumblers to crystal clear plain cups, hard plastic cups are ideal for upscale occasions where traditional glassware isn't feasible. These cups look like china or fine-cut crystal, yet cost a fraction of the price and none of the clean-up.

Heavy-duty flexible cup holding coffee

Heavy-Duty Flexible Cups

Featuring a medium wall construction, heavy-duty flexible cups offer increased flexibility while remaining crack-resistant. PET plastic cups are crack-resistant and are crystal-clear for an upscale look. PET plastic cups are available in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. It's important to note that these cups can only be used with cold beverages, limiting your service options. Polystyrene cups are also available in several different colors, making them a perfect choice for parties and catered events.

Thin wall cup holding soda

Thin Wall Cups

An economical option for everyday beverage service, thin wall cups are made of durable polypropylene material for a lower cost alternative to PET clear plastic cups. These cups are crack-resistant and feature a translucent appearance, with some even featuring a tapered design. Thin wall cups are perfect for serving water, soda, and various other refreshments in an office building or high-volume fast food venue.

Kids cup with a straw poking out

Kids Cups and Concession Cups

Featuring tight-sealing lids and hard plastic styles, kids cups and concession cups alike are designed to last while preventing drips and spills. These cups come in a variety of bold patterns, and range in size from a standard 12 oz. to a large 64 oz. Often referred to as "souvenir cups", kids cups and concession cups can be reused, though they are designed for one-time use by restaurant and concession stand operators.

Types of Paper Cups

Paper cups come in both hot and cold varieties. They are designed with insulation and durability in mind, providing you with a dependable option when it comes to serving your signature drinks. These alternatives to plastic cups can be used in several different settings, including coffee shops, concession stands, and even convenience stores. Continue reading to learn more about disposable paper cups and the benefits they offer.

Sustainable cup holding orange soda

Sustainable Cups

Made with up to 100% renewable resources, sustainable cups give you and your customers added peace of mind when using disposables. These cups are available in compostable paper styles, double-sided poly paper styles, and paper-lined styles with thick PLA shells. Many of these cups can be found in both hot and cold designs, allowing you to serve beverages as you see fit. These cups allow you to conveniently serve guests while adopting sustainable practices.

Air pocket insulated cup holding coffee

Air Pocket Insulated Cups

Air pocket insulated cups are designed to keep hot beverages warm without burning patrons' hands. This eliminates the need to "double cup" and reduces the need for coffee sleeves and other protective products. These cups feature an inner sheet and an outer sheet, separated by a layer of air for added insulating properties. Common examples of these types of cups include ripple cups and double wall cups.

Poly-coated paper cup holding coffee

Poly-Coated Paper Cups

Featuring a polymer coating for added insulation, poly-coated cups are great for serving hot or cold beverages alike! These cups may have a single or double poly-coating, with each additional layer offering additional rigidity. This lining also keeps liquids inside the cup and protects the outside of the cup from weakening due to condensation or "sweating." Unlike wax-coated cups, poly-coated cups pose no risk of wax buildup in your cup dispensers. They also come in a wide range of colors and sizes, and many feature tightly rolled rims for worry-free, leak-proof drinking.

Post-consumer cup holding coffee

Post-Consumer Cups

Made using FDA-approved recycled materials, post-consumer cups represent an eco-friendly addition to your selection of cups. They help to decrease the demand for new paper while providing your guests with a convenient and dependable cup. Many post-consumer cups are designed for use with both hot and cold liquids, giving you flexibility while serving your customers.

Wax-coated paper cup holding water

Wax-Coated Paper Cups

Similar to poly-coated paper, wax-coated paper offers extra rigidity and protection from leaks and absorption. They also feature an added layer of insulation, helping to keep beverages warm. These cups are available in a variety of patterns and sizes, and like poly-coated cups, many feature tightly rolled rims for worry-free, leak-proof drinking. Wax-coated paper cups are primarily designed for use with cold beverages, making them ideal when serving sodas, iced tea, lemonade, milkshakes, and more.

Types of Foam Cups

Foam cups offer superior insulation, making it easy to keep beverages warm. They are often used to serve coffee, hot chocolate, and other hot beverages. They feature lightweight, stackable designs, allowing you to make the most of your workspace. To learn more about foam cups and the features they offer, continue reading below.

Traditional foam cup holding soda

Traditional Foam Cups

Disposable foam cups offer a sturdy alternative to paper and plastic cups. Featuring a one-piece molded construction with a distinctive pedestal, traditional foam cups feature the durability you need with all the insulation you want. They can also be found at a lower price point, saving your establishment money while keeping guests satisfied. You'll also have the option to choose from cups featuring a traditional white style, printed patterns, and even designer styles. Some foam cups can even be customized, allowing you to create a cup that matches your company's branding.

Dart Fusion cup holding coffee

Dart Fusion Cups

Innovative Dart Fusion cups take convenience one step further by using ThermoThin cores. ThermoThin cores keep the cup's sidewalls cool to the touch, eliminating the need for "double cupping" or cup sleeves while providing excellent insulation for your hot or cold beverages. Fusion cups are available in several sleek and stylish designs, all with the look and feel of paper cups and the insulation of foam.

Eco-Friendly Terms

If you're shopping for eco-friendly disposables, several different factors can influence your decision. It's important to stay informed on what these terms mean and how they affect your cups. Below, we've outlined some of the most common eco-friendly terms associated with disposable cups:

  • Biodegradable: A biodegradable product can be broken down naturally by microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi, and absorbed back into the ecosystem. These products are composed primarily of naturally-occurring constituent parts and are often considered "green" or "eco-friendly" products.
  • Compostable: Items are compostable when they can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich material. Compostable products decompose and decay at the same rate as paper without releasing harmful toxins, making them a "green" option for your commercial business.
  • Degradable: Degradable products are oil-based and cannot break down naturally. Rather, degradable products are broken down through chemical reactions in anaerobic environments. Their decomposition results in water, carbon dioxide, biomass, or trace elements.
  • Post-Consumer Recycled Content: Post-consumer recycled content is material that has been used and discarded by the consumer, and then saved and turned into a completely new product. Once the initial product completes its life cycle as a consumer item, it is recycled and then made into another product, such as a paper or plastic cup.
  • Recyclable: The term recyclable simply means that a product can be reused and made into something else, something new. To identify recyclable products, the universal recycling logo/symbol should be featured on the packaging. Seven resin identification codes can also be found on recyclable plastic packaging. These are codes that each refer to what type of plastic the packaging uses. The codes can then be referenced against the codes available for recycling by your local authority/council.

Disposable Cup Materials

In addition to the various eco-friendly features, manufacturers use several different materials and coatings to improve the performance of their disposable cups. Below, we'll investigate some of the most common materials used and what benefits they offer:

  • PET: PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate. Part of the polyester family, it is used to make synthetic fibers as well as food and beverage containers. Products made with PET are lightweight and are proficient at blocking gases, solvents, and moisture. They are also strong and impact-resistant. Products made from PET can also be recycled.
  • Poly-Coated: The term poly-coated is often used when referring to a material coated in polyethylene. Poly-coated materials are more stable, smooth, and moisture-resistant than non-coated materials. They can feature a single or double layer of polyethylene depending on the quality and durability desired.
  • Wax-Coated: Featuring a leak-resistant wax coating, wax-coated products offer added strength and sturdiness, similar to those that are poly-coated. These products are often sprayed on all sides with wax and work especially well in cold applications.

Cup Accessories

Cup accessories complete your drink service and give your customers the most convenient experience possible. These accessories come in a variety of different forms, and we've listed the most common types below.

  • Lids: Lids are essential to ensuring your customers' beverages don't spill. There are paper cold cup lids, paper hot cup lids, plastic cup lids, and foam cup lids available in various styles and styles to meet your service needs. Flat lids are perfect for beverages such as water, soda, and juices. Dome lids offer additional space overhead, making them perfect for smoothies, milkshakes, and iced lattes.
  • Sleeves: Coffee sleeves help to protect your customers' hands from the heat emanating from their cups. Not only will these coffee jackets help to protect their hands from getting burned, but they will also help to make carrying the cups easier.
  • Coffee stirrers: Keep your self-serve beverage station stocked so that your customers can grab a stirrer to mix cream and sugar into their hot beverage. These allow your guests to ensure every coffee they prepare is made the way they want it.
  • Drinking straws: Drinking straws come in several different shapes and sizes, allowing you to choose the straw that best fits your menu. They help to reduce the risk of spills and allow guests to conveniently sip their beverages.

Customizing Disposable Cups

In some cases, you can customize your disposable cups to fit your company's branding. When executed correctly, this can be an efficient marketing technique. You'll be able to add a personal touch to your disposables, increasing the visibility of your business and improving your beverage service.

Customizable Cups

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