By Beth Carter
Posting in Design
Meet "Compleat," a to-go cup that eliminates the plastic lid.
There are many aspects of the "to-go" coffee culture that aren't exactly environmentally friendly, or even conscious. To go cups in general generate massive waste-- it was estimated that in America alone over 20 billion paper cups were used last year.
One of the most environmentally frustrating aspects of the cups though, are the plastic lids, also in the billions, that are a major contributor to the world's plastic pollution.
Simply put, you can do your part by bringing your own mug or by making your own coffee, but for those less espresso-inclined and constantly on the go, a start-up has created a to-go cup sans plastic lid.
The all-paper, disposable cup folds like a takeout container to form a sipping spout. The cup is made of just one piece of (waterproofed) paper glued to a round base. Herman said that ideally the waterproofing would be done with cellulose-based plastic so that the cups would be compostable.
Herman estimated that Complete would also eventually save retailers money since the cup is only one part and can be sourced through one supplier, also giving them incentive to use the cups. However, Herman admitted to Co.Design that figuring out the actual cost benefits would require direct collaboration with both retailers and manufacturers.
Herman thinks that shape alone of Complete is iconic enough to perform "priceless PR," that would tell consumers that a retailer was committed to do their part in reducing plastic waste.
It is still unclear when Compleat will be available, though Herman said he is in negotiations with producers, distributors and retailers. A complete redesign of a paper cup doesn't solve the problem of to-go cup waste, but it does show that there are ways to subtly tweak the current model that could potentially have a big impact.
Dec 15, 2011
It's unclear to me whether the design is even functional for liquids. It doesn't seal when folded and when you turn it over or tip it to drink the contents are going to run around the folds and out. I think the inventor can be credited with making the first paper "dribble cup."
This looks like a good idea for cold beverages, but I see hazards for store staff trying to fold it over a hot liquid on a busy morning at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. A pain filled utterance is already common in coffee shops with the relativly safe covers now used.