Food provides nourishment, satisfaction, joy and is also a significant part of the economy in all nations in the world. A critical part of the food industry is food packaging, which ensures that food stays fresh, clean and safe for human consumption. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, food packaging has become a critical part of food service businesses that have turned to deliveries. This article proposes that paper cups provide a sustainable option for food packaging, especially in the fight against Covid-19.


The origin of the paper cup dates as far as the 2nd Century BC when Imperial China used them to serve tea. However, paper cups gained popularity in the 20th century. Around 1907, the world was grappling with public health concerns and a fast solution to ensure hygiene was crucial. Various parties, including Dr. Samuel Crumbine, campaigned for the use of paper cups to serve water. Later, during the Spanish Flu, public facilities used paper cups to serve beverages. The key point is that paper cups played a critical role in curbing the spread of contagious diseases due to their disposable nature. It's therefore, imperative for modern food packaging to break the cross-contamination chain by relying on disposable cardboard cups.

Consumption, Safety, and Hygiene

Food production causes a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Of these emissions, food packaging only contributes 5%, while food wastage contributes one-quarter. Supply chain wastages and consumers are the leading cause of food wastage. However, with sustainable food packaging solutions such as paper cups, especially for beverages on-the-go situations, we can control food consumption and wastage at certain levels and consequently, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Development of Sustainable Alternatives

While there are no debates about the use of disposable cups to reduce contamination, there are heavy concerns around the presence of paper cups in landfills and water bodies. Fortunately, paper cups are recyclable, especially in creating other products. According to The Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group reports, there are more than 4,800 paper cup recycling points in the UK alone. These schemes bring together coffee shops, waste collection companies, manufactures and local administrations to ensure that tones of paper cups are recycled. With technological developments, recycling paper cups is set to become easier and consequently reduce paper cup pollution.

The road ahead

Food packaging has evolved from a simple container to a tool against contamination. With the rising need for social distancing, home deliveries, hygiene, and convenience, food packaging will continue to play a critical role in the fight against Covid-19. Paper cups will play a critical role in ensuring public health safety and a quality drinking experience.