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Betacup: A Mission to Drink Sustainably

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With 65 percent of North Americans drinking coffee, and it being the second most popular drink in the world, it only seems reasonable that an organization would come along to make the act of consuming this beverage friendlier for our environment.

Founded in May of 2009, The Betacup Challenge is an attempt to do just that. Its goal is to create a more convenient and less harmful alternative to the non-recyclable coffee cup. And the best part is that you get to design it.

“We decided that while we might have a few good ideas, lots of talented people drink coffee everyday and they might have thought about this problem too. So we came up with the betacup challenge as a way to get a lot more of us working on the problem,” the Web site reads.

In a promotional video, Toby Daniels, co-founder and community organizer of Betacup, briefly summed up the issue with our everyday disposable coffee cups.

“We drink coffee out of these paper cups because it’s convenient,” Daniels said. “But there’s a problem. This [paper] cup cannot be recycled, and most likely, neither can the ones that you throw away every day.”

He goes on to explain that over 58 billion cups are thrown away every year, with the majority ending up in landfills. (More facts on this issue can be found on the official Web site)

Betacup began accepting submissions for a more eco-friendly cup on Apr. 1, and so far there have been a total of 161 submitted ideas. The top entry will receive $10,000, and the subsequent top five will have $10,000 divided amongst them.

Recently, Core 77 posted their three favorite ideas from the challenge so far. Their first pick, The Une Coffee Cup submitted by Tom Fereday, is my personal favorite out of the bunch.

After browsing through the submissions, I began to sense that some people were over-designing, which is why coming across the Une Coffee Cup was such a relief. The cup is 100% recyclable and made of black polypropylene, and the ribs circling the cup serve as a protection from the hot contents inside.  It features a hinged lid, which means the top and cup don’t have to be manufactured separately, ultimately reducing the environmental footprint it leaves behind.

But despite these innovative features, it’s a surprisingly simple design.

“The UNE coffee cup rethinks existing disposable coffee cups from the ground up,” Fereday writes in his description.

You can register here to submit an entry, or browse and rate other ideas.

The submission deadline is June 1, and the 14-day rating session begins the same day.

“Our goal is to eliminate paper-cup consumption through the design of a more convenient alternative to reusable coffee mugs,” Daniels said. “We believe that if we take collective activism, we can come up with a more sustainable and a more convenient solution that consumers will adopt on mass.”

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About Daniel Speir

  • Liz

    I’m kind of worried about how this UNE cup will sound when I drink from it. Hopefully, not as painful as that darn chip bag.