It depends on what you mean by “good”. It’s true that expanded polystyrene (styrofoam is the common name for it) is cheap, light, and a good insulator for hot beverages, but from an environmental standpoint it has drawbacks. It’s made with non-renewable petroleum, it won’t biodegrade, and its manufacture releases greenhouse gases, although in a much smaller amount than it used to. Animals can easily ingest it, which causes damage to their digestive systems.
As always, it’s better to use reusable containers. If you have to use something disposable, the jury is still out about whether styrofoam is a worse option than paper, which has its own drawbacks. A company called Dart recycles expanded polystyrene, but unfortunately they only have seven recycling centers in the U.S. so far.
It is a good insulator as maggief says, but so are re-usable cups. Additionally, you can save money at many coffee shops (10 cents at starbucks and I save a quarter at the coffee cart on my campus). This savings has more than paid for the cup, and I have not had any unforutnate cup seam/lid malfunctions that stained my clothes.
If you must use disposable, I would say styrofoam is better if you recycle it afterward. it will keep your beverage hot, or cold, and can be easily recycled, where as the coated paper cups cannot.
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