The popular Stanley Cups are flying off store shelves and can be seen quenching influencers’ thirsts in online videos. However, these reusable cups may actually pose some sustainability concerns, experts told ABC News.
Several experts told ABC News that the passing trends of reusable cups and water bottles could promote overconsumption of these products and become counterproductive when compared to the goal of supporting sustainability.
While experts agree that reusable products are a positive option for consumers hoping to make a more sustainable choice, many say companies encouraging people to buy unnecessary multiples of them is a problem.
Sandra Goldmark, a recycling expert from Barnard College and Columbia University’s Climate School, told ABC News that each of these products has an “environmental payback period,” and customers need to “understand why purchasing multiple, durable items is not sustainable. Treat them as a fast fashion item.”
“this [cup craze] “It’s a really funny intersection of something that could be greener and more sustainable, meaning a reusable product, but it’s a really unsustainable marketing and fashion moment, which is an unfortunate intersection,” Goldmark said.
Recycling experts, like Goldmark, look to economic models that focus on extending the life cycle of products through methods such as reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling.
Stanley was originally founded in 1913 with the goal of providing reusable products “Built for life” products for their customers.
“This sustainability mission is a core value of Stanley and we prioritize the use of recycled materials in our products, eliminating the need for single-use plastics and increasing recycled content each year,” a Stanley spokesperson told ABC News. “We plan to continue offering more sustainable products through responsible design. We approach sustainability with the same spirit of innovation and originality that we approach our products.”
But in recent years, the company has found huge popularity on apps like TikTok, where influencers have posted videos showcasing their extensive collections and limited-edition designs.
Marketing hype has created a feeling of “artificial scarcity” around these products, Erica Serino, communications director for the Plastic Pollution Alliance and author of Thicker Than Water: Searching for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis, told ABC News.
“Companies make special, limited-edition releases to create crazy hype around their products, and unfortunately, it works,” Serino said. “Companies that sell reusable products should move away from these tactics and instead help promote values that reduce waste; for example, showing people how to properly care for reusable materials, so that people don’t feel obligated to I will buy more frequently.”
Goldmark points out that this particular trendy mug isn’t the only one. Other brands, such as Yeti and Hydroflask, have also developed a loyal following in recent years.
“A double-wall steel cup is a great thing, and can last a lifetime, but it’s also energy-intensive and materials-dense in the first place,” Goldmark said. “So there is what is called an environmental payback period for any product.”
“If you want to compare a reusable coffee cup, for example, to a disposable paper cup – you have to use that steel cup for a long time, for many months, perhaps for many years, depending on how it was made in the first place,” she explained. Energy and materials.
Some are examining how Stanley makes its mugs after several TikTok videos recently surfaced showing people testing their mugs for lead. the The company said “There is no lead on the surface of any Stanley product.”
“Our manufacturing process currently employs the use of industry standard granules to seal the vacuum insulation at the base of our products; the sealing material does contain some lead,” Stanley notes on their website. “Once this area is sealed, it is covered with a durable layer of stainless steel, which “It makes it inaccessible to consumers.”
If the lid at the base of the cup comes off and exposes the beads, the company continues, customers can place an order warranty claim On their website.
An FDA spokesperson told ABC News that the FDA is “aware of the situation” regarding reports of lead in Stanley cups.
“The agency has not received reports of lead poisoning [Stanley] Cups At this time, companies that manufacture products intended for use with foods sold in the United States are responsible for complying with federal law Food, Drug and Cosmetics Law And the Food and Drug Administration regulations“As a general precaution, consumers should avoid drinking from broken or damaged cups,” the spokesperson said.
Stanley also says “its products meet all US regulatory requirements” and that it “tests and validates all products for compliance through third-party FDA-certified laboratories.”
While Stanley says the lead used in the manufacturing process does not pose a health risk, some TikTokers are posting videos Throw their cups away Questions were asked about bullets, and followers were encouraged to do so as well.
Some companies have end-of-life plans for their products, if for any reason consumers decide they are done using them.
ABC News asked Stanley if the company has an end-of-life plan for its products and has not yet received a response.
Serino also said stainless steel is recyclable, although not often curbside. She suggested that alternative solutions could be reusing reusable cups and bottles, or donating them.
As for the mug craze, Goldmark says it’s not realistic to think people would never get excited about a product like this and rush out to buy it.
“But I think there is a way to do it more sustainably, both from the perspective of the person who is tempted by the virus madness and from the perspective of the company,” Goldmark said. “Most importantly by the company that makes them with a penchant for reuse, repair, refurbishment, fun detailing and recycling of these items.”
For consumers who are out in the market for a new reusable cup, Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics — an environmental advocacy group focused on ending plastic pollution — told ABC News that people should look for “a sturdy metal container that holds the least amount of plastic.” Plastic”. Plastic possible.
“A much better option than trying to collect trendy water bottles is to use a simple bottle made of 100% stainless steel, glass or unglazed clay that you can use over and over again — without exposure to microplastics,” Serino said. “Consumers need to be aware of companies’ marketing tactics, and delve into their values and mindsets. Before you buy a trendy new product, ask yourself, ‘Are you really going to use it?’
“It’s not cool to be extravagant,” she added.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com