The paper cup process began when a woman in Pennsylvania noticed that her husband had developed a nasty habit of spilling paper cups.
When she tried to clean out the cups, she realized that the paper was being consumed by her.
So, she tried using paper to clean the paper cup.
“That was kind of a breakthrough,” says Karen McDonough, a paper-cup specialist at the University of Southern California.
After a few tests and a few cups, McDonought decided to start the paper cups as a treatment for paper smearing.
“You’re basically getting rid of the bacteria and the dirt,” she says.
“But it’s still pretty messy.”
So, her company, PaperCup, started using a special, adhesive paper cup that’s designed to stick to paper.
It’s supposed to be a kind of “paper bag,” McDonogh says, to help keep the paper in place while it’s being washed.
The cups are available at local paper stores.
They’re the first time that the adhesive paper has made its way to the U.S. market.
But there’s still a long way to go.
“There’s still no FDA approval,” says McDonaugh.
“So we’re just testing out the paper bag as a product and we’ll be able to provide it to patients.”
So far, she says, about one-third of the cups are approved for use by patients.
But, she adds, that’s just the beginning.
“We want to start seeing more of this as a potential treatment for everything from paper smear to paper cup,” she explains.
“For the paper, for the cup, for everything.”
The PaperCups have gotten a lot of press, but the paper still makes up a significant percentage of paper consumed worldwide.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense has been testing the paper-cup method on soldiers in Afghanistan, but McDonaught says the results haven’t been as positive.
The government is still evaluating the effect on other health issues, she notes.
“I think the paper is the number one thing that’s causing people to change their behavior,” McConough says.
But she says the paper also plays a significant role in the paper industry’s sustainability.
The paper is used in about two-thirds of the world’s paper products, McConogh says.
It also accounts for about 60 percent of the paper that’s used in paper production, according to the paper company.
“It’s the primary ingredient that’s going into paper production,” she adds.
“The paper is a huge part of our economic and cultural fabric.”
McDonoth hopes the paper and paper cups will be an attractive alternative to the plastic cups that many people have come to associate with paper.
And, she hopes they’ll help people make healthier choices when it comes to paper products.
“If you want to save the planet, you’re not going to buy paper cups,” she notes with a laugh.