What disposable cups are best suited to waiting areas?

Hayley Osbourne
July 7, 2023
An image of kraft paper disposable cups, single-use cups, compostable cups, cups for waiting areas, in an article on What disposable cups are best suited to waiting areas

Regardless of what business you’re in, it is essential that your consumers have a good waiting experience. Notably, one of the most overlooked aspects of a business is the design of the waiting area, and what it offers customers. 

Waiting areas often serve as the first touchpoint between the customer and a business – making it a critical element in a customer’s first impression. The majority of waiting rooms often comprise a few chairs and magazines. However, one of the most effective ways to improve the waiting experience is to provide free cups of tea, coffee, and water.

Recent research suggests 45% of consumers drink two to five cups of tea a day. By providing free access to these beverages, businesses can ensure their customers are comfortable while they wait.

That said, as consumers become increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of disposable cups, it’s clear businesses need to make a switch. So, which cups can businesses use in high-traffic areas such as waiting rooms, without affecting their suitability efforts?

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The importance of a superior waiting experience

A waiting area is defined as a ‘room provided to people who are waiting to be seen by a doctor or dentist, or those waiting in a station for a bus or train.’ However, waiting areas are also often found in conference centres, vehicle service centres, gas stations, and salons. 

In some cases, asking customers to wait is unavoidable. However, business owners have the power to make the experience stress-free and enjoyable. Distractions, for instance, are a highly effective way to prevent customers from becoming frustrated with wait times. 

As a result, businesses often stock waiting areas with a variety of amenities to keep customers engaged. These include tables and chairs, various reading materials, and sometimes television. More recently, they’ve evolved to include charging outlets, free WiFi, and occasionally, free beverages and snacks. 

It is important to note that while a business could provide the best service in the world, customers are likely to be dissatisfied if the waiting experience is poor. A superior waiting experience is shown to enhance customers’ overall satisfaction with a business. Furthermore, customers are more likely to return to the establishment if the wait time involved is less inconvenient.

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What to consider when investing in disposable cups

According to Clean Water Action, the US alone uses some 130 billion disposable cups per year. The majority of these are difficult to recycle, which means the cups end up going to landfill and contributing to the growing waste problem. In light of this, business owners should ensure the cups used in waiting areas can be recycled easily, or are biodegradable or compostable.


For beverages like tea and coffee, materials such as bagasse paper, white cardboard, or corrugated paper cups lined with polylactic acid are highly sustainable. Bagasse paper is stronger and more durable than styrofoam while being biodegradable and compostable.

White cardboard cups are usually made from high food-grade cardboard, making them a recyclable and compostable option, while corrugated paper cups can compost within a month

The most ecological choices for disposable water cups include polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polylactic acid (PLA). PET is fully recyclable and retains its structure in the face of condensation, as the material does not absorb water. PLA, on the other hand, is one of the most highly produced bioplastics in the world. It is toxin-free, which has made it popular in the food and beverage industry.

Cup size

Consider how long customers are likely to wait, as this will help determine the cup size needed. For instance, smaller spaces should use smaller mugs, as the consumer is more likely to finish the beverage before the wait time is up. This helps prevent unnecessary waste and mess. 

However, in hospitals, for instance, customers are likely to experience a longer wait time. Therefore, larger cups would be more effective, to prevent customers from having to keep getting up for refills. 

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Should businesses custom-print cups for waiting areas?

Are custom-printed cups in waiting areas worth it, considering the customer is already in your business? Depending on your business, there can be several benefits to branding disposable cups. For instance, branded cups can help in-house promotions gain traction, particularly if they instruct customers on how to purchase them. This helps raise brand awareness and possibly repeat sales. 

Additionally, cups with a QR code can be used to encourage customers to scan and visit the business’s website while they wait. Brands could even develop a separate page on the site with activities to keep customers entertained.

However, businesses must consider the staff-to-consumer ratio, and who is more likely to use the cups. For example, if the cups are mostly used by staff instead of customers, customisation will be an unnecessary expense. This is because the information is not getting to a wider audience. 

Deciding on which cups are best for your business, and whether to brand them or not can be a daunting task. However, the team at MTPak Coffee is happy to guide you through the process. We offer businesses a range of disposable cups made from a variety of sustainable materials. 

Our plastic takeaway cups are made from recycled materials and can be fully customised with your branding. Once used, they are fully recyclable, helping brands contribute to a circular economy. Our recyclable plastic takeaway coffee cups are available in four sizes: 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz.

Other takeaway cup options include those made from bamboo fibre, and kraft paper, with an environmentally friendly PLA lining. These cups are also available in 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz. In addition to being strong, waterproof, lightweight, and 100% compostable, our cups can be custom-designed using innovative digital printing technology, allowing you to feature your brand logo or recycling instructions.

For more information on takeaway cups for your business, contact our team.

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