Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Finally...An Almost Environmentally-Friendly Take-Out Cup

Photo courtesy: TreeHugger

The best option, of course, if you are going to have take-out coffee is to have your own thermos or travel mug at the ready. Coffee cup litter is a huge recycling problem for several reasons. Just one of them being the fact that while coffee cup lids can pop open easily and spill hot coffee on you when you are holding them; in the recycling process, those same lids cling on like grim death to the cup making the process cumbersome and expensive; not to mention, contaminating the paper with plastic.

There was a large confrontation last year in Toronto when the city asked Tim Horton’s to redesign their coffee cup to come up with a completely recyclable coffee cup – one that would be easy and cheap to recycle. Tim Horton’s refused.

So…while I still think paper take-out cups should be banned, if they must remain in use this one from Shamrock Cups should replace all of them. It is an amazing piece of creativity and design work incorporating the age-old Japanese custom of origami.

There is no separate, removable lid, the lid is part of the cup and folds down in an origami-like fashion to close and stiffen the cup. The cup is lighter and far stronger than the ordinary take-out cup. There is also the added bonus that since the lid is part of the cup, there is no chance the lid will pop off spilling hot coffee all over you.

shamrock cup from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

Lloyd Alter of TreeHugger was sent a few Shamrock cups to try by the inventor of the cup, Phil Abbott. While this video shows only his second try at using the cup, he finds it quick and easy to fold. Lloyd declares the cup to be of solid design and the hole provided in the cup is more comfortable to use than the fold-back tab provided in separate lids. (I always dribble when I use the fold-back tab. I should have to wear a lobster bib when using them; otherwise, my clothing pays the price.)

Once folded down, the cup stays closed. There is no chance of the lid popping off or coming undone – coffee-stained spills on many blouses or suit fronts will become a thing of the past.

squeeze test on shamrock cup from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

Lloyd deliberately tried to squeeze the coffee cup open; but, the lid remained stubbornly closed – thank goodness!

Photo courtesy: TreeHugger

The only disadvantage he could find is that is not very rigid until the lid is closed because there is no rim to support the shape. People who like to add cream and/or sugar to their coffee will have to exercise some caution when carrying this cup to the cream/sugar/napkin/stir stick counter.

This cup is completely biodegradable with a waxed (not plastic) lining; and, is an improvement on what is currently on the market.

Via TreeHugger and Shamrock Cups

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