Bamboo Cups – 8 Things you need to know

Bamboo coffee cups are made from bamboo, cornstarch and resin. Bamboo is a sustainable product as it grows fast with minimal chemicals and fertilizers. Bamboo coffee cups can be placed in the dishwasher and re-used over and over again. Disposable bamboo cups that are plastic lined will need to be recycled in specialized facilities.

All about bamboo cups

If you are wondering what bamboo coffee cups are you are not alone. These little inventions are popping up in shops everywhere. They are a great eco friendly choice if you are looking to swap out your throwaway coffee cups and go reusable.  

These cups are made from bamboo, cornstarch and resin.  In this article we will explore how they are made, why they are so good for the environment and why they make the perfect addition to an eco friendly life.

Disposable bamboo cups are a sustainable choice as bamboo grows fast. They need to recycled in specialized facilities that can separate the bamboo from the plastic lining.

Check out these reusable biodegradable cups from Amazon.

These cups can be used over and over again, they are BPA free and dishwasher safe.

1. How are bamboo cups made?

I have recently bought myself a bamboo coffee cup to bring to cafes when I grab my takeaway coffees.  It is such a great thing to do if you want to start reducing the amount of waste you are creating in everyday life.

These cups are one of the many types of coffee cups that have become available for the eco conscious coffee drinker.  But how do they turn bamboo into a coffee cup?

I did some research to answer this question.  It turns out that bamboo is a great material to use to make an eco friendly cups.  Bamboo is a sustainable crop, they can be grown without pesticides and grow incredibly fast.  Bamboo is a plant product therefore it stores carbon and will biodegrade. They can be harvested over and over again because as a stem is cut, the plant will grow new stems to replace it.  

The bamboo coffee cup at the front of the picture is made with a mix of bamboo and resin. This can be used over and over again and put in the dishwasher.

To make bamboo coffee cups most companies are mixing bamboo pulp with non-GMO cornstarch and a resin.  The lid can be made from the same bamboo material or a silicon (like the silicone baking mats). Bamboo fibers are mixed with the cornstarch to make a paste, then a resin is added which makes it hard.  

The resin makes these coffee cups very durable. That means if you drop it they shouldn’t break. Bamboo cups are not indestructible however if you treat it well, it will last for years.

Check out bamboo coffee cups at Amazon here.

2. Are bamboo coffee cups biodegradable?

Bamboo itself is a natural fiber and when returned to the earth will break down.  Research I have found suggests that disposable bamboo cups will take approximately one year to break down.  That is far better than normal takeaway coffee cups which can take more than 50 years to break down.

3. Can you put bamboo cups in the dishwasher?

Bamboo coffee cups made from a mix of resin and bamboo can be used in the dishwasher but the best thing to do is to check the bottom of the cup.  Most of them will be dishwasher safe as the resin keeps the cups strong. I put my bamboo coffee cup in the dishwasher and cleans up well.

Overtime if bamboo cups are placed in the dishwasher everyday they will wear out quicker.  I like just to give my bamboo cup a hand wash when I have time because it will help it to last longer.

4. Are bamboo cups microwave safe?

My bamboo cup says “Do Not Microwave”.  Most bamboo cups will not go in the microwave but check the bottom of the cup to be sure.

 The bottom of my bamboo coffee cup says
“Do Not Microwave”

5. Can I bring my own bamboo cup to Starbucks?

I did some research and at the time of writing you can bring a reusable cup to Starbucks. Starbucks are offering a 10 cent discount in the US for bringing your own cup. So over a 1 year period if you get a coffee each day that is $36.50 you will save.  That is plenty to cover the purchase of a reusable cup in the first place.

I think the most important thing to remember is the amount of trash we can avoid going to landfill by making this one simple change.  Reusable coffee cups are being thrown out by the millions. If we all take steps we can help to slow this waste.

6. How a bamboo cup can save you money

In some Aussie cafes, the ones that I visit frequently, I get a 50 cent discount when I bring my reusable cup.  I am saving $3.50 per week, $15 per month or $182 per year based on 1 cup per day.

Within 1 month you can pay for your bamboo coffee cup (or close to) and then from there it is money back in your pocket.  If you are buying coffees each day anyway, or even a few times per month, it is certainly worth the change.

7. What is the best material to use for coffee cups?

If you want a super long lasting cup then a stainless steel cup like the Frank Green will probably outlast most.  Stainless steel is a super strong material so will keep going and going.

If you want a lightweight, still sturdy biodegradable cup then bamboo is certainly a good choice.  They can be placed in the dishwasher and will get you a reusable cup discount at cafes.

Hardened glass is another common material that reusable coffee cups are made from. It won’t soak in the coffee colour or flavour, it is really long lasting and cleans up easily.  Options include KeepCup and Joco. We have had our Joco cup in our family for most of this year and it is still going strong. Even with myself and my husband sharing it.

These would be my recommended choices for cups.  I have all of these options and I find the one that I take with me the most is my bamboo cup. This is simply because it is light and fits nicely in my bag.

8. Why should I get a bamboo cup?

It is good to remind ourselves why choosing an eco cup is so important. According to ABC (Australia), Aussies are using 1 billion cups each year. They make up the second largest contributor to litter, second only to plastic bottles.

They have a plastic lining which will outlast us.  That means they are really hard to recycle and only specialist facilities can deal with them. They can end up in our oceans and causing problems for our marine life.  

Since making the switch to an eco cup I feel so much better knowing that the cup that I have just used won’t be hanging around for the next 50 years clogging up our landfill.  If you are keen to try an eco cup, bamboo is a great choice.  I have been using my bamboo cup almost daily and I am very happy, so is the planet.

If you want to find out more about eco coffee cups check out my previous articles here:

Pros and Cons of Paper Cups – Facts I bet you didn’t know

What size reusable coffee cup? What you really need to know

Disposable cups environmental impact