The sheer volume of food packaging waste and single-use cups in the food and beverage industry is concerning a rapidly growing number of consumers worldwide.
Global fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks and KFC are trying to reduce the use of plastic lids on drinks, single-use straws and plastic bags. In developing markets, like Vietnam, a single cup of coffee will often be served in a paper cup with a plastic lid, a plastic straw (for stirring) and a cardboard sleeve so the drink is comfortable to carry – all placed in a plastic carry sleeve allowing the drink to be hung on the hook of a scooter for the trip back to the office or home.
While the ultimate solution to the environmental problem of such careless food packaging waste is reusable mugs, bamboo or metal straws and sipper lids for soda cups, there will always be a need for single-use cups and disposable packaging even for those of us with the best intentions.
In the US, GP Pro has launched one solution to reduce waste: the Dixie Ultra Insulair Hot Cup, the first heat-activated disposable beverage cup that uses an internal air pocket rather than an external sleeve to help keep beverages hot and hands cool. It launches this weekend, coinciding with National Coffee Day (September 29).
While the company noticeably fails to clarify if the used cup is recyclable – while made of paper it is coated with a low-density polyethylene film – it certainly removes the need for a single-use cardboard sleeve, or double cup.
When a hot liquid is poured into the cup, a thin heat-activated air pocket expands within the cup’s lining, insulating the beverage so your drink stays hot longer and your hand doesn’t get uncomfortably hot.
The Insulair Hot Cup will be sold to food vendors in 12-, 16- and 20-ounce sizes, with the actual volume dependent on the heat of the liquid and the size of the air pocket.
“We are incredibly proud of the innovation and industry insight that went into designing the Dixie Ultra Insulair Hot Cup, and we are confident that it will quickly become the go-to cup for coffee-on-the-go,” said Alec Frisch, GP Pro VP for foodservice. “For operators, the Insulair Hot Cup can help them improve efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver a better, more branded customer experience. And, for consumers, it will completely change how they enjoy their hot beverages on the go.”
Not only does the new cup eliminate the need for an external sleeve, it uses less material than traditional cups, requires less storage space and one size lid fits all cup sizes. It can also be customised with branding for the vendor.
And hopefully, it plays a small part in reducing food packaging waste…