A more sustainable disposable cup
Paper is mostly made from wood, so far so good, if sourced appropriately, wood is a sustainable resource. However, the process of transforming wood into paper involves multiple steps which include the chipping of the wood, separating of the cellulose fibres, adding bleach and water, and eventually forming the paper from the resulting pulp.
Which led us to question whether, for specific applications, it would be more sustainable to utilise raw unprocessed wood and avoid all the steps in the paper making process. We knew that it’s possible to peel timber, to create a veneer which is about the same thickness as cardboard. So, we started looking for applications and, in the process, discovered that approximately 500 billion paper cups are produced each year.
We had our first goal, to design and develop a more sustainable disposable cup made from a wood veneer and with minimum production processes between the peeling of the timber and the final product. To validate this approach, we did further research and found that one cubic metre of wood grows every three seconds in Switzerland. Once it’s peeled, it equates to a piece of veneer 1 km long and 1 m wide — enough material to produce 20,000 3dl cups … every 3 seconds.