Microplastics And Your Disposable Coffee Cup

Are microplastics in your coffee cup?  Coffee cup liners are a huge, overlooked contributor to microplastic accumulation. In fact, drinking a single cup of hot coffee could send trillions of plastic nano particles into your body.

Research recently demonstrated that by the time a person has downed 13 paper cups of hot coffee or tea, they will have consumed the equivalent of one nanoplastic particle for every seven cells in their body. 

We talk about the importance of pesticide and mycotoxin-free coffee beans which I think is worthwhile and I would definitely consume pesticide and mycotoxin free coffee, but these hormone-disrupting plastics are no laughing matter. 

The Journal of Hazardous Materials in 2020 found that within minutes of the hot fluid contacting high density polyethylene, which is the plastic liner in your decorated paper coffee cup from Starbucks, microplastics have started entering your favorite hot drink.

What is even more disturbing is that your drink doesn’t have to be piping hot for it to be problematic.  At 100F, plastic nanoparticles were shown be released. Most coffee drinks are served between 130-160F and the hotter the liquid, the greater the breakdown of the polyethylene lining. 

No need to give up your coffee, tea or hot cider to reap the benefits of less plastic in your body. If your drinking hot coffee or tea, bring your own metal or ceramic cup or use the coffee shop’s in-house cups to enjoy your hot elixir.

Microplastics are a big deal because they disrupt our hormonal system, promote infertility, DNA damage, and chronic inflammation.

Given that our research on microplastics and the relationship to humans is just in its infancy, it is safe to say we are only scratching the surface of their potential downside.

In our current world so much of health accumulation is side stepping the destruction brought on by convenience.  A good question to ask, “Is this new convenience worth the cost to my health or my family’s health?”  For 5 more non-food substances that can make their way into our food, check out this post.

Have you considered microplastics? I’d love to hear about in the comments below.


1. Ranjan VP, Joseph A, Goel S. Microplastics and other harmful substances released from disposable paper cups into hot water. J Hazard Mater. 2021;404(Pt B):124118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124118

2. Cui-Lan Bai, Liang-Ying Liu, Jia-Liang Guo, Li-Xi Zeng, Ying Guo, Microplastics in take-out food: Are we over taking it?, Environmental Research, Volume 215, Part 3, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.114390

3. Wang, Hao-Peng and Huang, Xu-Hui and Chen, Jia-Nan and Dong, Meng and Zhang, Yu-Ying and Qin, Lei, Pouring Hot Water Through Drip Bag Releases Thousands of Microplastics into Coffee. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4091193 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4091193

4 thoughts on “Microplastics And Your Disposable Coffee Cup

  1. Angie

    I don’t see a reference to the papers I wrote..I’ll check these articles and see if they referenced me someplace down the line.

  2. Chamanit

    Starbucks employees insist on pouring the coffee into their paper cup first before pouring it into my reusable stainless steel cup. They say it’s because they need to measure the amount of liquid properly.


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