• Tech Tech

These 'geo-neutral' cups and bowls can magically disintegrate after use — and they're based on a 5,000-year-old technology

"To solve our current day plastics waste problem."

GaeaStar, ancient practices to create plastic alternatives

Photo Credit: @gaeastar / Instagram

Currently, there are an estimated 170 trillion pieces — 2.6 million tons — of plastic floating around in the ocean poisoning marine life and taking centuries to break down in nature. And that's to say nothing of the immense plastic pollution piling up in landfills, leaching microplastics in the soil and surrounding waterways.

That's why one company has come up with an alternative to single-use plastics. GaeaStar, founded in 2020 and based in San Francisco and Berlin, makes single-use products out of earthen materials that "disintegrate naturally without any environmental impact."

According to the company's website, the inspiration for the product came from street vendors in India, who sell tea out of terracotta cups known as "Kulhars," which have been used in the region for 5,000 years and are usually thrown away after one use. GaeaStar's co-founder, Sanjeev Mankotia, had the "eureka moment" to "[combine] this ancient practice with the 21st century technology of additive manufacturing to solve our current day plastics waste problem."

According to its website, GaeaStar products do not use timber, acids, bleach, fillers, plastic, or ink and do not need to be recycled or sit in nature for hundreds of years, unlike their plastic counterparts.

Currently, the company offers a line of cups and a line of bowls, which each come in three sizes.

The company recently announced via an Instagram post that it is coming to the U.S. market thanks to a partnership with Verve Coffee, a California-based coffee roaster. 

"California-based coffee lovers will see our cups in-store later this year," GaeaStar wrote.

Some countries have taken steps recently toward curbing plastic pollution, such as India, which banned the production, sale, importation, distribution, and stock of certain types of plastic items. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is banning all single-use plastic starting in 2024. 

As such bans become more widespread, a company like GaeaStar that offers single-use alternatives could be in a great position to fill a need.

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