- Traditional cups are typically lined with unsustainable plastic polyethylene
- New waxy cups are made from gourds, a large fruit with a hard, watertight skin
- Creme claim that these biodegradable vessels can be made on a mass scale
- They used 3D moulds to grow them into functional shapes, such as cups
They are made from gourds, a large fruit with a hard skin in the pumpkin family, using custom-designed 3D-printed moulds.
The company claims that these biodegradable cups can be manufactured on a mass scale – offering a more environmentally friendly alternative to paper coffee cups.
Gourds are fast-growing plants that bear strong fruit each season. Once dried, the gourds’ strong outer skin and fibrous inner flesh becomes watertight.
These crops have been used for centuries across the globe as decorative or functional vessels.
Crème, based in New York, adapted this method to create its own mugs, using custom-designed 3D-printed moulds.
The studio developed a stackable set of cups that mimic the silhouette of a classic faceted glass cup.
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‘We can grow gourds into customisable functional shapes, such as cups and flasks that can be composted instead of filling up landfills like the plastic alternative,’ the design studio said in a blog post.
The HyO-Cups, being 100 per cent biodegradable, could significantly help to reduce this waste, according to Creme.
They initially grew them outdoors but there were many barriers such as weather, pets, humidity and flooding.
They are now growing them in a container laboratory set up in a shipping container. They say the next step for them is to grow them in an indoor laboratory.
Tania Kaufmann, the company’s business manager, 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.
‘Creme explored this centuries-old craft, using 3D moulds to grow them into functional shapes, such as cups and flasks to create sustainable, renewable, and compostable products without waste.’
The manufacturing of a typical paper-based coffee cup, which is typically lined with unsustainable plastic polyethylene, produces over 100 grams of carbon dioxide.
Only 0.25 per cent is estimated to be recycled after disposal. In 2011 it was estimated that 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year.
We are in an urgent need to shift our current cradle-to-grave paradigm,’ said the Crème design team.
‘Take-away cups and packaging are a standard of everyday life but they produce an incredible amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contaminates our precious waterways and landscapes. What if aside from being a material resource, nature could also provide a solution for this worldwide issue?’
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