What are biopolymers, actually?

How does Kaffeeform bring the loose, grainy coffee grounds into the sturdy form of the cups? The simple answer to that is: biopolymers. Bio-what? Our founder and Kaffeeform material inventor Julian approaches that complex topic for us.

What are plastics, actually?  

The collective term plastics includes all polymers that are produced synthetically. For that different raw materials are processed and combined. Most polymers today are made from fossil oil, whose excavation and processing boost our global emissions drastically. 

And what are biopolymers then?   

A biopolymer is a polymer of natural origin and can include such diverse natural materials as wood, cellulose, chitosan, and chitin. The composition (synthesis) of the biopolymers there happens in cellular processes. The results e.g. are hair or fingernails!  

Industrially produced polymers are based on renewable, plant-based components, too. But then the natural process is synthetically generated in industrial facilities. The high quantity of starch required for the process is mostly produced from corn, sugar cane or potatoes.

Are there any ecological advantages?

As bioplastics are based on renewable resources they have many advantages compared to fossil-based plastics. While growing plants remove and absorb large quantities of CO2 that are compensated at disposal. Thus, biopolymers are per se climate neutral.

The key advantage is that biopolymers are based on renewable resources, whereas conventional plastics are based on fossil oil – a limited and increasingly scarce resource.

Ok, so how and why does Kaffeeform use biopolymers?  

Biopolymers are like a glue made from nature. They can be combined with different reinforcing materials such as mineral particles or natural fibers to create a biopolymer matrix composite. 

And that is exactly what we are doing! The biopolymer is coating the material components coffee grounds, wood chips and fibres and creates a solid compound. They provide the necessary stability and durability for our cups in everyday use. Because of the natural origin of the coffee grounds and the ecological advantages of biopolymers it was the only hardening compound possible for our material development. The resulting technical properties (exceptionally light, sturdy and impermeable) offer a future with many possible applications for our material in exciting products.

What happens at the end of the life cycle?

The actively used recycling of these new compound materials is still at an very early stage. Thus, it is not profitable for the processing industry. The quantities of raw material are still too small for a comprehensive waste separation. So the majority of these waste materials still ends up in thermal incineration. With quantities increasing new recycling systems will surely be established and used. 

 
How popular is the use of biobased plastics today? Do you see a trend? 

Right now only around 3% of the globally produced plastics are based on renewable resources. On the global commodities market fossil oil is still very cheap, as this industry segment has been growing into a massive market over the years. Compared to that the young alternative of biobased plastics is facing a massive price and market competition. In the automotive sector as well as for packaging for cosmetics and food sector we see an increase in biobased plastics. 

With legislative changes and new standards institutions and politicians can accelerate a change of mindset and drive the processing, application and recycling of biobased plastics. And lastly consumer can contribute to a growing market for this promising material alternative with their daily purchase decisions. 

 

Do you want to know more? Then dive deep into the exciting world of biopolymers here (in German) and here (in English)

The notably combination of design and promising material innovation of Kaffeeform was awarded with the the red dot Design Award in 2018.

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  • The Kaffeeform material

    All products are composed of used coffee grounds and other renewable, plant-based resources that are hardened with biopolymers. They are light but still exceptionally durable and robust.

    • Break-proof up to a drop height of 1.5m
    • Free of melamine-formaldehyde resin
    • Free from plasticisers/BPA
    • Conserves resources
    • 100% plant-based
    • Cruelty-free
    • Dishwasher-friendly – we recommend to rinse printed cups gently by hand

    Every cup is one-of-a-kind. The special appearance of the marbled surface that resembles wood is rounded off by a light coffee aroma.

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  • Conditions for business customers

    Reselling Kaffeeform products

    • Possible in your own offline store and eCommerce
    • Sale restricted to private customers
    • Within the European Economic Area and Switzerland
    • Kaffeeform must named as manufacturer

    Conditions

    • Minimum order quantities: 20 pieces / product. With branding: 100 pieces / product
    • Quantity scales: 20 / 50 / 100 / 200 pieces

    • Delivery times at full availability of goods: 5 working days (DE), 10 working days (EEA). For branding editions upon request

    • Delivery costs are based on order size
    • Free shipping from 320 € (DE) / 480 € (EU Ⅰ +ⅠⅠ) net goods value

    • Payment target: 14 days for account purchases. First-time customers advance payment only

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  • KAFFEEFORM TREAT BOX

    We create customized editions with your logo on a cup of your choice

    Available in sizes S, M and L

    Boxes will be shipped as complete gift boxes

    Individual or bulk dispatch possible

    Conditions

    Minimum order quantity: 50 boxes

    Within one order one cup size can be selected

    Delivery within the EEA and Switzerland

    Quantity scales from 100 / 200 / 500 / 1.000 boxes

    Delivery times at full availability of goods:

    Boxes incl. cups without print: approx. 5 working days (DE), 10 working days (EEA). Boxes with customized cup editions upon request 

     Delivery costs are based on order quality and mode of dispatch

    Payment target: 14 days after delivery