Biodegradable coffee cups being "grown" to reduce plastic waste
A US company have just taken "grow your own veg" to a whole new level
Get your heads around this one. Here we present to you: biodegradable coffee cups 'grown' from fruit by an innovative design company in a bid to cut down on plastic waste. Grown.
The reusable cups are made from gourds, a fruit in the pumpkin family, which are grown inside 3D printed moulds to make them the perfect coffee-cup shape when picked. We repeat — veg is being grown into the shape of coffee cups!
Gourds can be compared to fast-growing squashes and were used centuries ago as drinking containers, thanks to their waxy outer shell. They were dried out and held hot liquids as effectively as ceramics or whatever else they used in the olden days.
The architecture and design company, Creme, owned by award-winning architect Jun Aizaki, tested the moulds in their studio in Brooklyn and then set up The Gourd Project . They now grow cup and flask-shaped gourds at a farm just outside of New York in the US. Minds blown.
The coffee cup moulds by Creme
Tania Kaufmann, the company's business manager told The Telegraph: "The inspiration actually came from how the Japanese grow their watermelons.
"They are grown in moulds into a square shape so they are easily transported and stackable, so we thought we might be able to grow gourds using moulds in the shape of cups and flasks.
"Creme identified gourds as a fast-growing plant which bears robust fruits each season, developing a strong outer skin, and fibrous inner flesh. Once dried, gourds have historically been used by our ancestors as receptacles like cups. Creme explored this centuries-old craft."
Photo by 煜翔 肖 on Unsplash
There's no denying disposable coffee cups are bad news for the environment. In 2011 it was estimated that 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year (a number likely to be even higher now). The average American office worker gets through about 500 disposable cups every year.
It is not easy for us consumers to recycle takeaway coffee cups due to the mixture of paper and plastic used in their inner lining, which makes the cup heatproof and leakproof. Plus, most of us are on the go when drinking coffee and chuck the cups in the nearest bin.
As a result the majority of cups, more than 99.75 per cent, do not get recycled. In 2017, a study found that just one in 400 coffee cups are recycled, even if it is thrown into a recycling bin.
Fang Yuan Chuang Unsplash
Moves towards using resuable coffee mugs have been made. Pret, for example, will charge you 50p less if you bring a reusable cup while companies such as KeepCup and Ecoffee are making reusable cups the must-have accessory while boosting our eco-credentials. In 2018 the UK Government began to mull the prospect of a 'latte levy', a 25p tax on disposable coffee cups.
The good new, or gourd news rather, is these vegetables only take around six weeks to grow, and the cups can hold up to 443ml of water - just short of the 473ml in a medium, or 'grande' sized Starbucks coffee cup.
Ms Kaufmann added: "The company is focusing on creating a sustainable alternative to the single-use plastic cup. This cup of the future.”
Reduce. Reuse. Grow coffee cup with seeds planted ready to grow after use
Meanwhile back in 2015 a Californian initiative, called Reduce. Reuse. Grow partnered with designer Alex Henige to design a limited edition coffee cup that contains seeds.
A customer simply drinks a beverage then takes the cup home, after five minutes soaking in water, the coffee cup is ready to plant and plants, flowers, even trees flourish. Each cup is biodegradable within 180 days and release seeds and nutrients into local landfills.
We haven't heard about them recently. Maybe they didn't catch on, or did they? Please tell us if you have used, grown or planted a coffee cup recently.