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Published: 10 Aug 2018

Biodegradable Coffee Cups Grown from Fruit

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HyO Cups by Crème Studio

As big brands and retailers pledge against plastic, designers and researchers are persisting with sustainable and plant-based alternatives for single-use items. Brooklyn design studio Crème has turned to gourds (fleshy fruits with hard skin) to create an environmentally friendly solution to disposable coffee cups.

While existing paper versions are typically lined with polyethylene and cannot be recycled or composted, meaning excessive numbers end up in landfill, the HyO-Cups are 100% organic and biodegradable.

The studio looked to gourd containers for inspiration, which can be found all over the world. Traditionally used in many cultures as containers for liquids or medicines, they are often grown in earthen moulds to create different shapes and sizes. Once dried out, the fruit’s strong outer skin and fibrous inner flesh become watertight. 

To make a standardised vessel in the same vein, Crème developed custom 3D-printed moulds. The fruit is then grown inside, taking on the shape of a stackable, faceted cup or flask.

The production process currently takes around six months – from planting the fruit to drying out the shells; but the team claims the cups can be manufactured on a mass scale. It hopes that scaling up production and growing the gourds in a controlled, indoor environment will produce a more efficient and plentiful crop.

Laboratory-grown materials and solutions to our depleting sources is an important theme in our S/S 20 Materials Focus story Augmented Space. See Edible Kombucha Packaging and Crab Shells & Cellulose Offer Promising Plastic Alternative for further sustainable alternatives.

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