From Bean to Cup to… Tree? The World’s First Plantable Coffee Cup

Last weekend, a successful Kickstarter campaign came to an end, securing funding for the production of the world’s first ever fully-biodegradable, plantable coffee cup.

Autor*in Marisa Pettit, 03.18.15

Last weekend, a successful Kickstarter campaign came to an end, securing funding for the production of the world’s first ever fully-biodegradable, plantable coffee cup.

Coffee first became popular in the Arab world, with coffee houses serving as popular meeting points and important hubs of intellectual life, but while coffee’s popularity has now gone global, today’s consumer experience couldn’t be more different. It’s estimated that in America alone, an astounding 400 million cups of coffee are drunk each day, many of those grabbed on the go, and served in single-use, disposable paper or polystyrene cups.

Let’s take the world’s biggest coffee chain as an example: Starbucks. According to official statistics on their website, the amount of customers using reusable cups when buying their beverages is less than two percent, despite the store offering those who do so 10 percent off. So counting only Starbucks paper cups (incidentally containing only 10 percent recycled paper), not to mention the plastic lids and cardboard sleeves that come with them, that’s already a lot of unnecessary waste that ends up in the bin at the end of each day.

This is where the creative minds at California-based Reduce. Reuse. Grow come in. Their innovative new packaging looks like a conventional cup but is in fact studded with seeds that are native to the region in which it is sold, and designed to biodegrade within 180 days. Once they’ve used the cup, consumers are free to decide what happens to it, either by following the instructions printed on it and planting it themselves, or dropping it into a designated rubbish bin, and having it picked up by a third-party to be used for local reforestation elsewhere. In fact, even if the customer goes ahead and, for the sake of convenience, drops it in a rubbish bin at the end of their street, or even out of their car window later on that day, the waste will still be gone six months later, and maybe there will be something a little more green in its place, 

Now that the funding is in, manufacturing can begin, and the organisers aim to have the project up and running by the end of summer 2015. With a number of large coffee chains having apparently already shown interest in stocking the plantable cups, this project is an exciting reappraisal of the very concept of waste: turning it from something that weighs upon and pollutes the environment, to something that nourishes it and gives back

For more information about the project, take a look at the video below:

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