Housewares companies have been offering mugs and bottles in place of disposable containers for years, and now those containers are looking and acting like the one-use items they're meant to replace.
Australian siblings Abigail and Jamie Forsyth designed their polypropylene Keep Cup to fit standard coffee shop equipment, meaning your neighborhood barista can slip the reusable mug under the espresso maker just as quickly as easily as a paper cup.
Wilton Brands Inc.'s Copco PP and thermoplastic elastomer coffee mug borrowed its shape and look from a typical takeout paper cup. The company introduced a new water bottle at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago March 10-13 made of Tritan copolymer that mimics the look and shape of one-use water bottles.
“It's playful,” said David Starr, director of design and product development for Copco of Woodridge, Ill. “It's all about fun.”
Seattle-based Pacific Marketing International's Aladdin brand introduced a similar water bottle during the show, though it uses styrene acrylonitrile with a tint to the material, rather than the clear Tritan that Copco chose.
Both bottles have screw-off lids for drinking, and both have screw-off sections lower on the bottle's body to make them easier to clean.
Copco's bottles were so popular that halfway through the show, the company moved them from a corner of its booth to a more central display because they had a tendency to disappear as passersby nabbed them.
With new bottles and travel mugs available from dozens of housewares companies, each one is trying to find a way to connect with major store buyers and consumers alike — with updated, spill-proof systems from companies like Contigo and styles from plastic cup maker Tervis.
The Forsyth siblings are looking for the same, seeking to expand their market globally from their home base in Fitzroy, Australia.
They launched the Keep Cup in 2009 after looking for a reusable mug for their own coffee shop. In addition to its shorter walls — the largest is 16 ounces, the equivalent of a Starbucks' “grande” — a band around each cup provides room to personalize the cup. That includes a listing of preferences such as soy or skim milk, much the same way a barista may write those choices on a paper cup.
Liquid Solution, a brand of Pacific Cornetta Inc. of Tualatin, Ore., is taking the “eco-friendly” angle into a new area. It not only offers reusable coffee cups and water bottles, it is launching production of a compostable, reusable glass made from a polylactic acid resin derived from corn and bamboo.
The True Fusion glass has its limits — it can only be used with cold drinks and must be washed by hand to keep it from breaking down prematurely — but it also offers consumers the “green” option of reusing a glass for about two years, then composting it.
The glasses, made at the company's factory in China, are only the first offering Liquid Solution expects to bring to market using PLA, she said.
“The whole thing has been, reusable, reusable, reusable,” said marketing specialist Jenny Liu. “Now it's reusable and green.”