Unocup Eliminates Plastic Lids

Posted On: 12/11/2019

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NEW YORK CITY -- Unocup is doing its part to eliminate single-use plastics from the to-go waste stream with the launch of its lidless, foldable paper coffee cup that creates its own integrated top.

“The cup is a breeze to fold, hold, drink from, and reopen,” according to the company. “Our foldable top allows for less spillage, and sturdier holding -- no need to worry about the lid popping off or the cup breaking away when held from the above.”  

Its one-piece structure is optimized for mass-production using existing traditional cup-making machines. Lids do not need to be manufactured, stored or transported, therefore saving on energy, materials and time, officials pointed out.

Unocup cofounder Tom Chan came up with an idea for the initial concept in 2015 and it garnered a lot of attention -- winning an international design contest, getting featured on BBC and in Fast Company and National Geographic, as well as exhibited in a national museum in Taiwan.

In 2019, Tom and Kaanur Papo, both longtime friends, decided to work together on making the cup become a reality.

Hundreds of prototypes later, and with the help of peers and mentors, Unocup was created. With a design that maximizes ease of folding for customers and baristas, spill proofing, cost-saving, manufacturability, and has a sleek modern look.

The company has already exceeded its goal to raise $14,500 on Kickstarter to manufacture and distribute the cups to cafes and restaurants, with more than $27,000 already pledged.

According to Unocup, New York City alone uses an estimated four million coffee lids a day, plastic lids produce an estimated 20,000 tons of waste each year and 8.25 million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year.

Hot beverages are a key piece of business for a vast number of convenience services operators, and it’s become increasingly essential to seek more sustainable alternatives to single-use disposable materials as rising numbers of consumers and corporations consider it their duty to reduce their environmental footprints.

“In today’s environment, big impacts happen through small changes over a large scale,” according to Unocup. “Plastic lids often do not get recycled and, in turn, pollute our oceans. Straws have previously garnered wide-spread attention due to their impact on ocean pollution, but in fact plastic lids make up to eight times more of ocean waste than straws do.”

With Unocup, the entire cup life cycle becomes more streamlined and sustainable, the company explained. Collecting used paper cups becomes easier since customers will no longer need to deposit lids and cups into two different collection bins.

“Users won’t need to fiddle and look for a lid, or worry about using one or not, therefore creating a more comfortable drinking experience,” the company summed up.

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