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Biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable shot glass


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Many of us use single-use 1-oz plastic shot glasses for tastings. Particularly if you want clear ones, these are usually made out of polystyrene, which in general is not recyclable in most communities and will not decompose easily and when it does can release phenolics as environmental contaminant. Hence, it is desirable to find alternative 1-oz shot glasses that are either recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. We have not yet found any, the closest we have come are 1-oz food sample cups, which have a wide, folded brim for stiffness and attachment of a lid. These are compostable, made of corn PLA. They are not suitable for disposal in land fills, nor recyclable. Has anyone found any other solutions? We have found larger (3 oz) cups that are not transparent that are recyclable, but these are too large. It seems there is a clear market for such, but none available?

Yes, in the tasting room an alternative would be to use glass shots and clean them, but we are finding participating in many events these days that require us to bring tasting cups, and that they be one of the above.

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We'll be using glasses (Glencairn) and a glass washer in our tasting room. 

We will source a cheap branded shot glass for event use that the taster can keep - charged off to marketing. 

At some point we have to be part of the solution and not the problem.

This simple act of positive corporate responsibility should pay for itself in the long run.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We thought about a "give away" shot glass as well. In large enough quantities, you can get these down to $0.25, compared to $0.02 for polystyrene shots. It is not clear they have a smaller carbon footprint, but at least they don't have the plastic waste. I did find an alternative plastic that is recyclable: 1oz medicine dosage cups. These are made from polyethylene, have the same shape, but are translucent rather than transparent. They also have gradation markings on them for dosing, but do have the advantage of being cheaper, about $0.01 each in quantity. The polyethylene is fully recyclable, but be aware that some recyclers will not properly recycle items this small. Check with your local municipality.

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We went to glass several months ago and added an under-counter low temp dishwasher. It will wash 50+ 3/4 oz shot glasses in 90 seconds. Now were not throwing away thousands of plastic shot glasses.

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45 minutes ago, sandytoes said:

We went to glass several months ago and added an under-counter low temp dishwasher. It will wash 50+ 3/4 oz shot glasses in 90 seconds. Now were not throwing away thousands of plastic shot glasses.

We have a high-temp glasswasher for our bar/tasting room, so cleaning shot glasses would be no problem for us either. So, indeed, we have thought about it. But even if you don't normally plan to give them away, I suspect you have to plan on a few of them "walking off". But our concern is that you still need a solution for OFF-SITE events. For many events, we are now being asked to use biodegradables, so we really wish there was a good choice available. Where they only require recyclable, I think the medical dosage cups might work out fine.

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On 2/26/2020 at 9:29 AM, sandytoes said:

We use these when we have to for events that require biodegradable. They are poor cups to be used for tasting, they are really for condiments. The roll over lip is meant for a cover lid and to stiffen the cup, and is not well suited for sipping, since it cuts into your lip, and tends to dribble. Also, the cups don't stack well, any more than a dozen or so tend to flop over. And they melt at 114°F, so don't leave then in the car on a hot sunny day. And while PLA is biodegradable, it is not considered well-suited for disposal in land fills, since when buried, decomposition is slowed. It must be composted industrially in digesters designed to handle it.

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