More than eight million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, and plastic lids make up approximately 5% of that. New York City alone uses about 1.5 billion lids a year – enough to wrap around the Earth 3.5 times. Furthermore, lids are prone to leaks and spills that often cause inconvenience or injury.
To solve these problems, New York City based engineer Tom Chan and architect Kaanur Papo have spent four years to develop Unocup, a foldable paper coffee cup that doesn’t need a plastic lid. Unocup is spill-resistant, easy to fold, and comfortable to drink from. Additionally, its design is optimized for mass-production using existing cup-making machinery. Using Unocup will yield significant cost and energy savings in manufacturing, storage, and transportation that would otherwise be spent on plastic lids.
By launching a Kickstarter campaign, Tom and Kaanur hope to bring Unocup to market and achieve their vision of having the lid-free cup at every coffee shop and restaurant, thereby eliminating plastic lids for good.
They have also partnered with NYC artist Alexis Kandra to create unique sustainability-themed artwork Unocups, available through their campaign. Alexis paints animals in surreal arrangements to raise awareness of the threats they face from human activities.