Disposable cups have become commonplace today. Almost each and every Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) uses disposable cups to serve hot and cold beverages. The purpose behind this concept was maintaining hygiene and keeping a healthy environment by recycling used cups. Modernisation served well, as new technologies emerged, which revolutionised the concept of disposable cups by introducing new techniques and new eco-friendly raw material. Initially lids were not available, which restricted the motion of consumers due to spilling tendency. But later on lids were introduced to prevent spillage. Additional customisation in the cups with respect to size, colour, lid designs and themes were introduced to market the concept, which definitely worked as many small and mid-sized restaurants started using them. McDonalds, which was initially using polystyrene disposable cups started using paper cups in their outlets, starting from their U.S counterparts. The concept became the trend of the era as people could take disposable cups while driving to office.
Disposable cups reduced labour time and effort (and subsequently costs) as well, as cup washing got eliminated. “Use and throw” became a fashion then; however, the sole purpose behind “throwing” was getting the used cups to a recycling plant, thereby serving the purpose of being eco-friendly. However, some studies have revealed that almost 95 percent of the used cups were not being recycled. It is a weird fact that if used disposable cups are stacked on top of each other every day, they would be seven times taller than Mount Everest. A large number of cups are being disposed of every day and a majority of these become guests of the city’s garbage with only a few being recycled.
Product innovation to the rescue
Considering the fact that the recycling of cups was not up to the mark, the concept of “Pokito” collapsible and reusable cups came into the limelight. This concept was thought of by Andrew Brooks in 2006 when he was busy on a fishing trip in Canada. His thought was simple. According to him even a small change, as small as using a travelling mug and refilling it for a morning coffee, would make all the difference in the world with respect to the wellbeing of the planet. A lot of reusable travel cups are available in the market; however, many of them are either too heavy, big or sometimes tend to leak, which has an impact on their reusability. A product that would be sustainable to manufacture and would actually work efficiently from a practical standpoint drove the concept of Pokito from the ideation phase to the testing phase. Pokito cups are made from eco-friendly and food-safety approved Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) and Polypropylene (PP), keeping the planet and human safety in mind. The main features of these cups include a built-in insulation layer that serves two purposes – keeping the material inside hot and protecting the individual’s hand from burning; and a second feature is a raised spout, with a unique design, to reduce spilling while drinking on-the-go. The product was marketed as “the commuter’s new best friend” and Brooks has managed to sell almost 20000 Pokito cups till date worldwide.
The target was to bring in as many coffee franchises and independent retailers into the Pokito fold. The commercialisation of Pokito cups began with a collaboration with Omega Plastics. To restate the features of Pokito – these cups are reusable (tested to last a vast number of times), safe (FDA approved), practical and convenient (seal tight and are insulated from within), collapsible (ability to change the size of the cups as per requirement, squishes to almost 4.5 cm), hygienic (easy to clean and dishwasher proof) and light (weighs not more than 100g). With this concept billions of trees could be saved thereby protecting the environment. Currently, Pokito cups can be pre-ordered online and can be purchased from limited stores in the south of England, but mass production of Pokito cups has already begun. Pokito is by far the best alternative to disposable cups – a new emerging trend and a concept that is both environment friendly and promotes convenience and ease of use.