According to the German Federal Institute for Toxic Risk Assessment (BfR), when exposed to hot liquids, bamboo cups release compounds classified as carcinogens.
While plastic coffee cups are responsible for 36,000 tons of waste per year, more and more people are turning to bamboo cups, which are much more aesthetic and supposedly biodegradable. However, this material is not good, especially when it comes to cups, warns the German Federal Institute for Toxic Risk Assessment (BfR). According to the body, these cups made of melamine, a polymer resin reinforced with bamboo fiber, contain dangerous compounds. Although melamine itself is not toxic; when exposed to high temperatures, it breaks down into monomers and formaldehyde, compounds classified as carcinogens.
To reach these conclusions, experts have tested 228 types of bamboo cups. They found that by pouring liquids in them at temperatures above 70°C, the European limit values for toxins were exceeded in 35% of cases. In some cases the levels were 30 times higher than the safety threshold for adults and 120 times higher for children. In addition, the amount of melamine released from the cups increased with repeated exposure to hot or slightly acidic liquids such as soft drinks.
Fortunately, other melamine cups without a bamboo filling have much lower levels of toxic substances. The bamboo fibers degrade the network formed by the polymers inside the melamine, and the hot liquid accelerates hydrolysis and decomposition of the resin, experts suggest.
Not really recyclable
While occasional exposure to large quantities of these chemicals is not necessarily dangerous, regular use of bamboo cups is hazardous to health, BfR concludes.
The German consumer group Stiftung Warentest had already warned of the possible dangers of bamboo cups. In addition to the health risks, the group has pointed out the commercial lies about them being biodegradable and recyclable. While the natural bamboo fibers biodegrade over time, the mugs do not decompose.. Therefore, the only option is to burn them.
Therefore, if you have decided to eliminate plastic, instead of using a bamboo cup, get a reusable cup made of a material such as stainless steel, porcelain or polypropylene.