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Paper Cup Coffee to go waste

From 1963 Blue & White Paper Coffee Cups to refillable Solutions: More Designs for less Waste

Walking through the cities of the world never goes without seeing tons of paper coffee to go cups, either in the hands of commuters on their way to work or, sadly for the environment, filling up trash cans. Many think this is a trend of stressed millennials on the run, who have no time to sit in coffee shops (or even at home) and drink their coffee in quiet. However, the first ever paper cups appeared and shaped the cityscape of New York City in the early 1960s: Leslie Buck designed the legendary blue and white “Anthora” cups with ornaments and the iconic “We are happy to serve you” description. They were used by the mostly Greek-owned coffee shops and diners. However, environment was no topic back then, since this was a New York-only trend. Today, as our sense for the environment grows – as does our coffee love – the amount of waste humans produce with paper cups worldwide is alarming.

Anthora Cup designed by Leslie Buck in 1963

Anthora Paper Coffee Cup New York City

The famous Anthora Coffee Cup is the first ever paper coffee cup that appeared in New York City in the hands of busy commuters or policemen. It is famous until today and New York fans can still buy the cups online - or ceramic versions of it. There are even shirts or key charms with the legendary cup on it. It even appeared in some tv shows in the 70s and 90s.

One coffee-to-go cup a day is around 20-30 cups in a month – paper cup plus plastic top. Each year over 500 billion cups are thrown in the trash worldwide. The biggest problem are the plastic caps, that cannot be easily recycled at standard recycling plants. This means: Less than one per cent of coffee cups ever end up being recycled. Unrecycled plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, meaning lots of it ends up impacting the natural environment. This means: A coffee to go cup outlasts the person´s (who used it for around 10 to 15 minutes) time on earth! Some politicians ask for a higher tax on coffee-to-go cups or a returnable system, like in Germany. However, also many coffee shops react and want to stop the waste: Customers can choose between a paper cup or a refillable plastic cup which has to be paid for. Some coffee shops even banned paper cups completely.

Coffee lovers get more and more ecologically aware and prefer cups that make fun to hold and drink from, that are stylish, keep their coffee warm and which are drip-proof. Designers noticed this trend and come up with nice and customer friendly commuter cups and bottles each year – increasingly in the past two years.

iF design center Chengdu exchanged paper for sustainable iF honored ceramic cups by KAHLA

iF Coffe to go Cups by Kahla design coffee cups

The soon opening iF design center in Chengdu will react to the massive waste problem of undisposable coffee cups: In our iF Design Café coffee lovers can drink out of the porcelain Kahla cups, which were honored with the iF DESIGN AWARD 2017 - and they can purchase them as well. Due to the lid's ergonomic drinking rim, the lips can completely enclose the opening, providing a pleasant and secure drinking experience. The parallel silicone rings protect the hands from heat and allow hot beverages to be transported safely – which makes the paper covers many coffee shops offer redundant.


KAHLA Cupit Cup