Good Thinking

Folding disposable coffee cup has no need for plastic lids

Folding disposable coffee cup ...
The team has taken to Kickstarter in an attempt to drum up some interest around its Unocup folding cups, from both consumers and businesses
The team has taken to Kickstarter in an attempt to drum up some interest around its Unocup folding cups, from both consumers and businesses
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The Unocup uses a paper folding design to give coffee drinkers a takeout option without the need for a plastic lid
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The Unocup uses a paper folding design to give coffee drinkers a takeout option without the need for a plastic lid
Unocup works much like a paper noodle box, securing its steamy contents inside a paper chamber with folding flaps at the top for safer transport
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Unocup works much like a paper noodle box, securing its steamy contents inside a paper chamber with folding flaps at the top for safer transport
The team has taken to Kickstarter in an attempt to drum up some interest around its Unocup folding cups, from both consumers and businesses
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The team has taken to Kickstarter in an attempt to drum up some interest around its Unocup folding cups, from both consumers and businesses
New York City generates around four million disposable coffee lids a day, according to the folks behind Unocup
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New York City generates around four million disposable coffee lids a day, according to the folks behind Unocup
The Unocup has been in development since 2015
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The Unocup has been in development since 2015
The Unocup can be used open or closed
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The Unocup can be used open or closed
The Unocup in open form
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The Unocup in open form
Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups, with shipping slated for July 2020
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Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups, with shipping slated for July 2020
Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups over at the company's Kickstarter campaign
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Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups over at the company's Kickstarter campaign

The convenience plastic offers through single-use straws, water bottles and disposable coffee cups comes at no small cost to the environment, but we are growing more aware of the damage they cause. And with that awareness comes new eco-conscious products that can help us chip away at the problem. The Unocup is a simple yet clever example, using a paper folding design to give coffee drinkers a takeout option without the need for a plastic lid.

Reusable water bottles, paper straws and even reusable cutlery have grown in popularity recently, as have reusable coffee cups. But there will be situations where people are in need of a caffeine hit and don’t have their KeepCup or Joco handy – in fact, lots and lots of situations. New York City generates around four million disposable coffee lids a day, according to the folks behind Unocup.

Their solution takes aim at these plastic lids that need centuries to decompose, rather than the plastic-lined paper used in takeaway coffee cups, which the team says takes just 20. Their folding cups are made from that same plastic-lined paper material, at least for now. They have actually been in development since 2015, with the team working through a string of prototypes to arrive at a final design with the right mix of ergonomics, spill resistance and durability.

Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups, with shipping slated for July 2020
Pledges start at $12 for a pack of plain white Unocups, with shipping slated for July 2020

It works much like a paper noodle box, securing its steamy contents inside a paper chamber with folding flaps at the top for safer transport. These flaps come together in a way that leaves a small spout at one end for the liquid to be sipped through, and can be easily popped open to give it some air or show off some latte art.

The team has taken to Kickstarter in an attempt to drum up some interest around its folding cups from both consumers and businesses who might like to stock them. You can imagine if small cafes and eventually larger chains, such as Starbucks or 7-Eleven, got onboard with this kind of idea, it could prevent a lot of plastic waste entering the environment.

The Unocup has been in development since 2015
The Unocup has been in development since 2015

Interestingly, the campaign is drawing support from individuals also, with almost 100 backers pledging more than US$5,000 of the company’s $14,5000 goal at the time of writing. We can’t see too many everyday people buying their own disposable coffee cups over and over, so this seems more like financial support for the concept than a deeply considered product purchase.

But if either of those options are motivation enough, pledges start at $12 for a pack of 20 plain white Unocups, with shipping slated for July 2020.

Source: Unocup

3 comments
piperTom
So, they built the lid into the cup. How does this reduce waste? I guess the "lid" is now made of a different material. If that's all there is, a regular, detachable lid could also be made of a different material. While the design is clever, it is still basically pointless.
JeffK
piperTom - Paragraph three above states "Their solution takes aim at these plastic lids that need centuries to decompose, rather than the plastic-lined paper used in takeaway coffee cups, which the team says takes just 20." The sentence structure could have been better thought out, but going out on a limb I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that the meaning is 20 years. I'm not a "greenie", but it is pretty obvious that landfills are a serious problem, especially in large metropolitan areas, though even rural counties like mine in western Montana are looking at some similar issues not too many decades in the future. I believe cost effective methods like these, that aren't calling on us to regress to third world living conditions, are great.
buzzclick
The explosion of take out coffee cups can be seen everywhere. If you consider the amount of plastic material of the lids, with the much larger plasticized cups that are difficult to recycle, this is not a solution. Someone has to come up with a coffee cup AND lid that are both easily recyclable, or conversely get people who need their cup of joe to bring their own.