IdealCup and friendlypak, coffee’s newest frontier

7 July 2015

The disposable coffee cup is one of the coffee industry’s biggest waste creator. Wellington MFE Green Ribbon Award winners IdealCup and Auckland based Friendlypak are committed to changing the way we think about and drink coffee.

In 2008 research by Celcius Coffee showed that one of the biggest waste creators in the industry was the disposable coffee cup. Lined with polyethylene – to handle the high heat of coffee – traditionally disposable cups are non-recyclable and so destined for landfill.

If you, or your employees, use a disposable coffee cup every day, that’s more than 250 cups to landfill per person, per year.

The IdealCup was designed to mitigate this amount of wastage. Designed to be reused and recycled (at the end of their long lives) the total plastic content of 32 disposable cups is enough to create a single IdealCup, meaning you’d save more than 30 cups a month from landfill.

While the IdealCup can change the personal takeaway coffee experience, Vegware – Supplied by Friendlypak has an industry-wide response,  creating single use cups that are entirely compostable.

 “Packaging in general, like disposable cups, can’t be recycled because it is contaminated with food, so it makes sense to use compostable packaging so the food and packaging can be composted together,” says Kevin Graham, Managing Director of Friendlypak.

The reason Friendlypak’s disposable cups are compostable: the materials are (literally) grown.

 “Traditional packaging is primarily made from unsustainable petroleum,” says Kevin, “however, all of our hot and cold cup range is made entirely from plant materials”.

This means that all of the Friendlypak products are grown for purpose before being made into cups and other products.It’s a great example of the circular economy in action.

“The compostable cups are made from sustainably sourced paper board and low carbon ploylatic acid. This means the materials are grown, turned into packaging fit for purpose, then composted back to soil from where they came,” says Kevin.

The key aspect of IdealCup, and what sets it apart from other reusable cups, is that it’s engineered and manufactured in Wellington – saving air miles and transport as it’s closest competitors come from Australia, the USA and as far abroad as China.

Steph Fry, owner of IdealCup, says the cups are manufactured from polypropylene and the lid and insert from polyethylene. “People do ask us ‘why plastic?’ and in most cases consumers just don’t appreciate that most disposable takeaway cups are lined with polyethylene, which means they’re not recyclable.”

The plastics used in the IdealCup are FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) approved as food safe, 100 per cent BPA free and recyclable – when the cup reaches the end of its life it can be returned to the manufacturer, ground down and turned into a new cup.

Steph’s conscious to keep IdealCup’s environmental footprint down while promoting local employment and Kevin says the Friendlypak cups can be returned to the soil they were used to grow them. 

Keeping production local has allowed Steph to reach out to the community; supporting Oxfam is one example.

“Oxfam wanted to go disposable cup free for the annual Trailwalker event and chose to partner with IdealCup to provide a reusable cup option for participants,” Steph says. “The power of this partnership is evident in the results of Oxfam’s monitoring and measuring of the carbon footprint of this event.”

More than 90 per cent of the participants used an IdealCup cup, which reduced Oxfam’s contribution to landfill by  37 per cent.

As well as winning the 2015 Green Ribbon Award for Minimising our Waste, IdealCup is also in the running for a  Wellington Gold award, Wellington’s premiere business awards, celebrating the innovations and successes of local businesses.

Vegware is one of five brands that Friendlypak uses to reach the goal of zero waste using compostable products.