The cup's folding design is similar to a takeout box.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated November 22, 2019
Courtesy of Unocup

Major coffee chains have been taking strides toward being more sustainable. Heck, last year, Starbucks and McDonald's even announced they were teaming up to work towards a compostable cup. But when Starbucks trialed the fruits of its collaborative labor earlier this year, the new cups still had one old problem: plastic lids. However, a New York City-based startup called Unocup believes it has solved that part of the equation, too, but creating paper cups where the "lid" is integrated into the design, folding over on top like a to-go box. And now, the project is looking for financial support on Kickstarter.

Courtesy of Unocup

Unocup began in 2015 when co-founder Tom Chan first developed the concept. He partnered with Kaanur Papo and trailed 800 prototypes before landing on the final product they have today, billed as a "spill-resistant, easy to fold and comfortable to drink from [cup] optimized for mass-production using existing cup-making machinery." As the Kickstarter sells it to the public, "Unocup uses a well-tested patent pending folding design to create its own lid as an integrated top. The cup is a breeze to fold, hold, drink from, cheaper, and of course, a lot more sustainable." And just like with a plastic lid, you can either drink from Unocup's spout which "is designed to fit your lips perfectly and create the smoothest drinking experience" or open the top up and drink from the rim.

The company is hoping to raise $14,500 via Kickstarter to bring these cups to market. Options start as low as 20 white Unocups for $12, and then including things like 10 custom-printed Unocups for $20, branded T-shirts, or art from the team's in-house artist Alexis Kandra. If you happen to run a coffee shop, you can also buy the cups in bulk through the Kickstarter to try Unocups at your store: as many as 5,000 Unocups for $535.

Courtesy of Unocup

Of course, it's going to take a lot more than selling a few cups on Kickstarter to solve this problem. Unocup reminds people that, in New York City alone, the plastic lid waste from one year could circle the Earth three times. But hopefully, at the very least, this campaign will bring more attention to their idea and encourage finding solutions to the problem in general.