The coffee cup gets a radical, desperately needed redesign

Unocups, the brainchild of a product designer and an architect, are able to hold hot liquids without the use of a conventional plastic lid.


In 2015, two New York-based designers conceived of a sustainable alternative to the ubiquitous city coffee cup. Tom Chan, then a sophomore at Cooper Union, developed Unocup—a spill-resistant, foldable cup made of paper—at his school’s Invention Factory summer program. During the six-week program, where students are challenged to design products that address a common need, Chan created some 800 prototypes for Unocup alongside his collaborator and cofounder, architect Kaanur Papo.

The result of all this dedicated prototyping? $100,000 from an international sustainability award, the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, to further develop the fledgling design.[Image: courtesy Unocup]

Now a full-fledged company, Unocup aims to cut down the amount of plastic waste that enters the ocean (8 million tons annually) by replacing conventional cup and lid designs with a single, origami-like cup that folds to create a lid. New York City’s caffeinated community alone uses roughly 1.1 million pounds of single-use plastic food ware (which includes hot drink lids) every year, whereas the entire world creates 300 million tons of single-use plastic waste annually. Since these omnipresent lids are responsible for 5% of those 8.25 million tons entering the ocean, according to Chan and Papo, their solution is long overdue.

This on-the-go coffee cup is primarily designed to reduce waste—but it’s also ergonomic. The entire cup folds into a peak, which becomes an integrated lid. The measured peaks and valleys of the folds make it impossible for the lid–which is part of the technically lid-free paper cup base–to unfold and pop off on its own. Each of the cup’s three sides can be folded over, either inward or outward (depending on your sipping preferences), and there’s a tab that tucks into a slot that creates the sliver of an opening for coffee to pass through. Think McDonalds french fry container, but covered.

Read the full story https://www.fastcompany.com/90433732/the-coffee-cup-gets-a-radical-desperately-needed-redesign?utm_campaign=eem524%3A524%3As00%3A20191121_fc&utm_medium=Compass&utm_source=newsletter

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