- Paperboard (Cupstock): The main body of a paper cup is typically made from paperboard, which is a type of thick paper specifically designed for forming cups. Paperboard provides the structural integrity and shape of the cup.
- Plastic Coating: To make the paper cup waterproof and prevent leakage, a thin layer of plastic, usually polyethylene (PE), is coated on the inside of the paperboard. This plastic lining acts as a barrier to keep the liquid from soaking into the paper.
- Wax Coating: In some cases, especially for cups that hold hot beverages like coffee, a wax coating is applied to the paperboard instead of plastic. The wax provides a barrier against moisture and heat. However, cups with wax coatings are generally less common due to environmental concerns and difficulty in recycling.
- Biodegradable or Compostable Lining: In response to environmental concerns, some paper cups are coated with biodegradable or compostable materials, such as polylactic acid (PLA) or other plant-based coatings. These linings are designed to break down more easily in composting or natural environments.
- Inks and Printing: The exterior of paper cups is often printed with various designs, branding, and information using inks. These inks are typically water-based and safe for food contact.
- Cardboard Sleeves: While not a primary material of the cup itself, cardboard sleeves are often used with hot beverage cups. These sleeves provide insulation and protection for the user’s hands when holding a hot cup.
It’s important to note that the specific materials used can vary based on manufacturer practices, environmental considerations, and regulations in different regions. In recent years, there has been a growing push to develop more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for paper cup production, including bio-based coatings and materials that are easier to recycle or compost.