NYC designers eliminate plastic coffee cup lid with single folded paper unocup

NYC designers eliminate plastic coffee cup lid with single folded paper unocup

with the folded unocup, a new york-based design duo works to sidestep the inconvenience of sustainable living. the foldable paper coffee cup is reimagined to integrate its lid into a single, origami-like piece — completely plastic free. while many environmentally minded consumers strive to avoid wasteful plastic, the conscious effort to properly compost or make use of reusable packaging can be an obstacle. the majority still goes straight for the short-lived, single use plastic product. while it is both more sustainable and cost-efficient, unocup is a breeze to fold, hold, and drink from. launched on kickstarter on november 15th, 2019, unocup kicks off its mission to eliminate plastic ocean waste.

unocup folded
unocup uses a well-tested patent pending folding design to create its own lid as an integrated top
images courtesy of cara vision



after four years of development, unocup launches on kickstarter to bring its sleek, foldable design to shops and restaurants, creating a cleaner, healthier earth. in new york city alone, nearly 1.5 billion coffee lids are discarded annually — only a fraction of the 412,500 pounds of plastic lids ultimately thrown into the ocean. this impact still does not include the cost and energy spent on manufacturing, storage, and transportation. the design team — kaanur papo and tom chan — develop the disposable unocup with both the consumer and business owner in mind. while the simplicity of its integrated design means less material to produce, order, and responsibly discard, coffee-drinkers can contribute to a cleaner earth without changing their habits.

unocup folded
to close unocup, simply fold over each flap and insert the tab



while eliminating the plastic lids that contribute to the tens of millions of pounds in plastic waste generated annually, consumers can still enjoy the on-the-go convenience, even better than before. kaanur papo and tom chan rigorously design the foldable unocup to elevate the experience of the traditional paper coffee cup. since its 2015 conception, the team has run with, shaken, and stirred each of the 800 following prototypes, ensuring the ultimate design’s spill-resistance. ergonomically, unocup’s curved drinking spout fluidly guides beverages while traditional plastic lids feature a rigid opening that often feels unnatural. 

unocup folded
unocup’s flaps can be folded backwards, so one can drink from the rim like a normal cup

unocup folded
the plastic lid, invented in the 1960s, is an outdated model that requires two parts when in reality, you only need one

unocup folded 
no more worrying about the lid popping off, or bringing along a thermos

unocup folded  
unlike traditional cups, unocup’s uniform structure creates a strong and consistent body that won’t cave under pressure

unocup folded
unocup’s ability to fold backwards also means that it is latte art-friendly

unocup folded
the one-piece structure is optimized for mass-production

unocup folded
plastic lids do not need to be manufactured, stored, or transported — saving on energy, materials, and time

unocup folded
the team collaborates with NYC artist alexis kandra to create unique custom unocups available through kickstarter


project info:


project title: unocup

design team: kaanur papo, tom chan

kickstarter: unocup — the no-lid foldable paper cup

collaborative artist: alexis kandra

photography: cara vision

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