That’s right, a coffee cup made from…coffee cups.
We love some closed loop, meta sounding product launches and this, from design gurus, ashortwalk, is one of our favourite so far in 2018.
Your wasted, single use coffee cups take 30 years to break down and there’s an awful lot of them – it’s thought we each get through 350 a year in the UK – that’s basically one a day.
(Click here for why our addiction to coffee on the go is such an environmental problem)
ashortwalk have a better solution than tossing them in the trash.
“The future for product design is all about the circular economy. By making products from used cups we create a demand and increase the value of the once worthless paper cup, which in turn creates enough profit for recycling firms to process the cups,” explains Dan Dicker, managing director of ashortwalk.
“In real terms a discarded coffee cup has zero value but when we collect them and process them into a useful polymer their value shoots up to £1,200 a tonne. If you then turn it into a new product then its intrinsic value becomes £20,000 a tonne. This is the huge value of closed loop product design.”
And not only is the rCup made from throwaway coffee cups, it can be recycled at the end of its life – although it’s designed to last for 10 years worth of lattes.
“You have to design and manufacture products that fit within the existing recycling infrastructure. For example many reusable cups on the market are made from silicon, which is technically recyclable. However, in reality if you put it out for kerbside recycling most local authorities do not have the capability to process it,” says Dan Dicker, managing director of ashortwalk.
“To really make a difference the design industry and manufacturers at the very least need to start linking up with recycling and waste companies. There is a huge disconnect between those producing waste and those tasked with recycling it.”
ashortwalk have form in this area. Last year they partnered with Hubbub to make coffee cup lids into planters and bird feeders.
But it’s not all about reducing waste.
Dicker knows important good design is for making products that people actually use. His team have designed the rCup to be the most useful reusable cup on the market.
“We looked at common complaints about travel cups and designed a cup that solved them. For example, the rCup won’t leak, ever. It keeps your drink hot or cold and you can pick it up without scalding your hand.
“You can easily open it with one hand and take a sip while you’re on the move.
“Importantly it also gives the best taste experience as the 360-degree drinking opening allows for more aroma, which in turn improves the flavour as 80% of taste is through your nose.”
That kind of innovative thinking means you no longer have to drink through a hole like a toddler with a beaker or scald your hand as you wait for your herbal tea to be anything less than nuclear hot. ashortwalk reckon it’ll keep your drink hot for around 1 hour 20 minutes. That’s long enough to get to work or get stuff in traffic or miss the bus and / or daydream about winning the lottery and never having to commute again.
The rCup is available here for £12 and will soon be available in major supermarkets and retailers.