The History of Styrofoam Cups

Written by doug leenhouts
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
The History of Styrofoam Cups
Many consider paper a better alternative to foam cups. (coffee cup image by Leticia Wilson from

Many foam products, including the infamous McDonalds Big Mac container and ubiquitous foam cups, have been used throughout the latter half of the 20th century. There is a misnomer; the common foam cup is actually made from polystyrene, not styrofoam.

Other People Are Reading

Polystyrene Origins

Polystyrene, the prominent material in foam cups, was first created by Eduard Simon, a German scientist, who isolated the polymer from storax, a tree resin. He named the plastic-like substance styrol oxide, though its creation actually does not require oxidation. In 1949, Fritz Stastny, another German engineer, created polystyrene beads that can be moulded into useful shapes, including the foam cup.

Foam Cups

Foam cups trace their roots to the Koppers Company, which in 1970 filed a patent for a plastic foam cup with walls that do not exceed twice the diameter of the foamed beads used to compose it. This foam had excellent insulation properties, and it was adopted as the material of choice for dispensing hot drinks.

Environmental Concerns

A 1986 Environmental Protection Agency report named the process of creating polystyrene as the fifth largest contributor of hazardous waste. Recycling facilities have been built since the early 1990s to properly dispose of foam material.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.