The disposable plastic cup has been a staple of backyard barbecues, house parties, college tailgates, and many other casual hangouts since the 1970s, but as manufacturers and customers alike continue to push for more environmentally-friendly alternatives for their single-use goods, the non-biodegradable and frequently non-recyclable cups may be facing the end of their time on top.
The harbinger of doom for red Solo cups the world over? “Infinitely recyclable aluminum cups,” according to Ball. The manufacturer has announced plans to debut its new cups through “major venues and concessionaires across the U.S.,” beginning in September and into next year. The pilot program is also launching the “sturdy, durable, and cool to the touch” cups with the intention to expand into spaces like restaurants and stores after 2020, although for now Ball’s focus appears to be on gauging reactions to the new item.
While there’ll be an inevitable adjustment period for some consumers who just like the familiar thing and don’t wish to start using the unfamiliar thing instead, a continuously recyclable cup seems like as strong a step as any to walking back some of the massive environmental damage done by non-recyclable plastics and other compounds over the last 50 years or so.
And sure, aluminum isn’t a cure-all out of hand for waste issues (most cans take around 80-200 years to decompose in a landfill), but Ball’s efforts still constitute a decent enough step toward easing back our collective dependence on plastic waste. Now it’s just a matter of convincing people to actually throw their aluminum cups in the recycling bin when they’re finished.