How many times have you used plastic cups at a party or in a bar?
While plastic is a valuable resource in many ways, around 50% of plastic – in the largest end-use market segment – is used just once and thrown away – according to Plastic Oceans.
GaeaStar, a technology company creating ultra-thin clay containers, ambitions to address this issue with its “drink to dust” technology. Using high-speed additive manufacturing, and three simple ingredients – clay, water, and salt –, the company develops cups and bowls ready to be used.
They are geoneutral, meaning they come from natural materials of the Earth and leave behind zero harmful waste. Once used, the containers can be discarded in the normal trash or smash them on the ground, and they simply turn to dust. This way, recycling is no longer necessary or required.
After generating over a million unit orders and even more product demand from its debut in Germany, GaeaStar has raised $6.5M in seed funding from Morningside Technology Ventures, at.inc/, Dart Labs Ventures, Sand Hill Angels, VSC Ventures and Climate Capital Ventures to bring its products to the United States, starting in San Francisco.
The world is currently creating more plastic waste than ever before. In 2021 alone, we generated over 40 million metric tons of plastic, yet only nine percent of all plastic ever made has been recycled. With GaeaStar, recycling is rendered obsolete.
Inspired by 5,000-year-old clay cups known as “Kuhlars,” GaeaStar presents a modern-day twist on the ancient Indian tradition of drinking from disposable clay cups that can be tossed — or smashed — on the ground without environmental harm. By combining this cultural practice with 21st-century technology, the company has created a viable fix for our single-use waste problem.
“Although many sustainable food and beverage containers are in the market, finding ones that are also exceptional products overall is a challenge. Our technology finally offers a solution that meets the convenience of being disposable without causing harm to the Earth while giving users a high-end experience,” said Sanjeev Mankotia, Founder and CEO of GaeaStar. “It’s all based on the premise that the answer to ditching plastic is to create something that comes from and returns to the Earth in essentially the same form. Ultimately, we have the potential to scale our technology for generations to come without adding more harmful waste to our landfills and waterways.”
How it Works
Unlike soggy paper straws or chemical-ridden plastic packaging, GaeaStar’s clay containers are ultra-thin yet 10x stronger than paper cups and offer an elevated on-the-go dining experience. The sourcing of the raw materials and delivery of the product is all done locally via a micro-factory model to limit the environmental footprint from start to finish.
Landing somewhere between single-use and reusable containers, these vessels can be taken home and safely used dozens of times with proper care while still having impact and guilt-free disposability. Consumers really can use them at their discretion.
Each container can be printed in an average of 30 seconds and, at scale, is cost comparable to single-use incumbents so businesses can move towards their sustainability goals in a cost-effective way. Leveraging GaeaStar’s products in your business may look like:
- Branded on-the-go cups for a coffee shop or juice bar
- Welcome drinks in your hotel lobby
- Trendy ice cream containers for frozen delights, as seen at Berlin ice cream manufacturer “Rosa Canina” or “Eisweiler”
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