Architecture and design firm Creme has created biodegradable coffee cups that are ‘grown’ from fruit, in a bid to reduce plastic waste.
The reusable cups are made from the fruit gourds, which are grown inside 3D printing moulds to make them into a coffee-cup shape.
Creme grow cup and flask-shaped gourds at a farm near New York.
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According to The Telegraph, the cups are in the design phase and not currently for sale, but the company has had inquiries from firms in the UK and around the world.
Creme business manager Tania Kaufmann said: “The inspiration actually came from how the Japanese grow their watermelons. They are grown in moulds into a square shape so they are easily transported and stackable, so we thought we might be able to grow gourds similarly using moulds in the shape of cups and flasks.”
“Creme identified gourds as a fast-growing plant which bears robust fruits each season, developing a strong outer skin, and fibrous inner flesh. Once dried, gourds have historically been used by our ancestors as receptacles like cups.”
She added that the company explored the method of using 3D moulds to grow them, including cups and flasks to develop “renewable and compostable products without waste”.
These gourds take around six weeks to grow and can hold up to 443ml of water, just under the 473ml in a medium, or ‘grande’ size Starbucks coffee cup.
The Creme business manager said: “The company is focusing on creating a sustainable alternative to the single-use plastic cup. This cup of the future is a completely organic and biodegradable vessel carved from a gourd that can replace the single-use plastic cup.
“Ideally, the entire world will benefit from our product. Single-use plastic cups are not biodegradable and cause a massive amount of waste. Most of the ‘biodegradable’ cups on the market are lined with a chemical to ensure they do not leak, but the chemical is not compostable, therefore the cups are not fully biodegradable.”
The design is also one of 12 entries in the NextGen Cup challenge, a competition to redesign the fibre to-go cup and create a widely recyclable or compostable alternative.
Starbucks has invested $10 million to launch the challenge in partnership with the closed-loop partners and the consortium, which includes McDonald’s, the Coca-Cola company, Nestlé and Wendy’s.