Since March 2015, US-based start-up LOLIWARE has been producing a series of biodegr(edible)—biodegradable and edible—cups that you can not only drink out from but that you can eat, too. With more and more technologies being used to develop edible food and drink packaging, are we one step closer to tackle waste and reduce what we send to landfill?

Picture the scene: you are at a party, sipping your favourite cocktail in style and then, as soon as you are done drinking, you start munching your glass. It might sound extreme, but it’s now possible. Thanks to LOLIWARE: the US-based start-up founded by Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker has launched a line of disposable cups made from biodegradable material that is good to eat, too.

100% plastic-free and non-toxic, LOLIWARE’s cups are the first and only edible disposable tableware made from agar, a seaweed-based gel, and flavoured with organic sweeteners. Everything about LOLIWARE’s cups is made from natural and organic ingredients, even their fancy look: exclusively selected colours derived from fruits and vegetables are accurately chosen to give the cups their stylish outlook, which adds a glamorous twist to everyone’s social life.

matcha superfood lemonade in loliware cup
Available, among others, in Yuzu Citrus, Tart Cherry, Matcha Green Tea and Vanilla Bean, the cups are perfect—chilled or frozen—to serve your drinks and desserts and surprise guests at your next party | Courtesy LOLIWARE

LOLIWARE: how did it all start?

After their graduation from the Parsons New School for Design in New York in 2010, LOLIWARE co-founders Briganti and Tucker started to look at viable ways to combine passion for social innovation and environmental awareness. On the occasion of their participation in the Jell-O Mold Competition, in particular, they began to experiment with several materials, including gelatine, until they settled on agar, odourless and tasteless seaweed-based gel, that can be easily flavoured. What began as a food design competition turned out to be a viable business and quickly grew into a high-demand business attracting global attention from the consumers and major brands (vodka maker Absolut was among the first to get an interest in LOLIWARE, inquiring about ordering 60,000 cups for an outdoor concert).

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“Every year, Americans throw away 25 billion plastic cups that end up in landfills, never to decompose. We wanted to find a solution,” say LOLIWARE co-founders | Courtesy LOLIWARE

To be able to bring their idea to the next level, back in 2011 Briganti and Tucker even started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter that enabled them to raise more than $10,000 to finance field-tests and shelf stability tests of their product, as well as a rebranding under the new LOLIWARE label.

Today, LOLIWARE is sold across 40 countries and can be found in no less than six continents. The business successfully continues to produce and sell its flavoured, edible cups to people around the world and is set to inspire many other businesses to fight waste one cup at a time: “Our passion is creating disruptive, experiential product designs that leave a positive footprint by combining sustainability, functionality, and a fresh perspective,” says Tucker.

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The company’s mission is to transform the tableware and packaging industries by creating products that are non-toxic, fun, and delicious | Courtesy LOLIWARE

Future of food: is it biodegr(edible)?

Labelled as the ‘Cup of the Future,’ these disposable cups are the first product in what will be an expanded line of 100% LOLIWARE’s biodegr(edible) tableware. According to the founders, the future of biodegr(edible) will include not only cups in a variety of sizes, straws, functional food additions—but also edible water bottles. And who knows what else the future could brign?

“I believe in the cross-pollination of ideas, disciplines and resources, as well as the exciting, translational space where design converges with science,” says Briganti.

Thanks to LOLIWARE, reducing the increasing and worrying amount of plastic that goes to landfill every year has never been easier. This biodegr(edible) business, though, despite revolutionary, is not immune from critics: edible packaging seems to miss the main point of having packaging for our foods at all. If plastic/traditional covering is important to help protect our foods and drinks from microbes and dirt, then is edible packaging less safe to eat? While the idea of introducing compulsory further packaging to edible wrapping is being considered, this kind of limitations–despite understandable–might end up to make edible products absolutely pointless.

For now, LOLIWARE still makes its way into our homes and helps us to make the switch from plastic, cup after cup. Are you tempted to give it a try?

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