A 2022 report found that about half of Australians consider a brand’s environmental efforts an important deciding factor when making purchasing decisions.
Switching from single-use coffee cups to reusable alternatives is one of the most popular ways to reduce your environmental footprint.
Reusable coffee cups have many benefits – they are a simple and convenient switch, often boasting stylish and user-friendly design features, and even keep your coffee warmer on a cold winter’s day.
Even with all these benefits, reusable cups aren’t suitable for everyone. They require regular, thorough cleaning and the ability to store them in your bag without the contents spilling all over your electronics. Then there is the biggest challenge of all: remembering to take it with you. Every. Single. Day.
Before I worked from home, I would regularly grapple with a moral dilemma when I inevitably left my reusable cup at home. Should I go without my much-needed caffeine fix, or face the judgemental stares of my eco-warrior colleagues when I returned with a disposable cup?
Enter the new kid on the block for sustainable coffee cups, the Good-Edi. This zero-waste, edible coffee cup is the brainchild of Australian women Catherine Hutchins and Aniyo Rahebi, who saw a gap in the market for a single-use coffee cup that was good for the environment.
How? By making the cup completely edible. Nope, this isn’t Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it’s the future, and it’s being led by innovative, creative women.
Creating the Good-Edi, the world’s first edible coffee cup
Hutchins and Rahebi came up with their business idea one morning over – you guessed it – coffee.
With more than 20 years of experience in the corporate food processing sector, they were discussing how great it would be to come up with a product that solved the coffee industry’s serious packaging problem.
“It’s partly people’s habits and lifestyles, sometimes a lack of awareness, sometimes greenwashing, but mainly there is no solution out there that truly solves the problem,” said Hutchins and Rahebi.
“The majority of existing cups which claim to be compostable also end up in landfill… [because] the capacity to recycle or compost these cups is limited due to a lack of equipped recycling facilities and access to commercial composting. Only 3 – 5 per cent of consumers are using reusable cups due to inconvenience. The life cycle analysis of reusable cups versus disposable cups shows that reusable cups need to be used up to 100 times to equate to the carbon emissions of disposable cups.”
Hutchins and Rahebi soon reached the conclusion that the only real zero-waste option would be something edible, that would also break down naturally. It needed to be sustainable without compromising on convenience or the user experience.
Eight months later, in June of 2021, their first edible coffee cup was produced in Melbourne.
Standing out in the saturated sustainability sector
Once they had their product idea, Hutchins and Rahebi faced the challenge of building their business from the ground up and setting themselves apart in an increasingly crowded industry.
After raising their start-up funds through grant applications, a reward-based crowdfunding campaign and private donations from friends and family, the duo were ready to set up their facility in Coburg.
“After many years of experience in corporates, we needed to learn how to start our own business,” they said.
“We joined an accelerator program called HATCH, which is run by the Taronga Conservation Society. The HATCH program was invaluable to us to learn how to navigate the start-up world.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without participating in this program. In particular, the connection with mentors, experts and like-minded individuals was essential to support us to build our start-up and achieve our goals.
“What we learnt is that it’s so important to reach out to experts and ask for help. We’ve been humbled by the help we have received, and this has been critical to achieve what we have in such a short timeline.”
Despite their strong focus on sustainability, Hutchins and Rahebi soon realised they had to adopt a business mindset to appeal to their stakeholders.
“One of our biggest challenges is that we are looked at and measured like a profit lead business,” they said.
“Although we are trying to do something good, still profit margin and cash flow are the most important things for investors.”
Hutchins and Rahebi’s start-up is unique in its focus on sustainability and changing cultural consumption habits. Unfortunately, investors often compare timelines for progress and scaling to tech start-ups, which have less tangible barriers to continued growth.
“We need support from organisations and venture capitalists to look beyond profit margins and have a larger focus on impact,” they said.
How are cafes and consumers responding to the Good-Edi?
While the concept of an edible coffee cup might be new to many, customers and cafes are responding with great enthusiasm.
“It has now been just over one year since we launched and we are in five states in Australia, sold in 50 outlets and have made over 80,000 cups,” said Hutchins and Rahebi.
“That is over 80,000 cups diverted from landfills, and every day that number increases. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from cafes, roasteries, corporates and events. Consumers love our product too!”
Made in Australia from locally sourced ingredients, the Good-Edi is made from oats and grains and has a mild, sweet flavour, making it the perfect companion for your morning coffee.
“The Good-Edi cup is designed to avoid creating waste. When you finish your drink you can eat your cup and it is tasty, like a waffle cone,” said Hutchins and Rahebi.
“If you don’t want to eat it, you can plant it in the garden, throw it in the compost or even the general rubbish – it will break down naturally in two weeks, even quicker than a banana skin.”
By choosing Good-Edi cups, you can eliminate waste from your daily coffee, use less plastic, reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to fewer trees being cut down.
Despite its crispy texture, Good-Edi cups won’t leak for eight hours, nor will they change the taste of your coffee or any other beverage it contains.
Through hard work, passion, and dedication to sustainability, Hutchins and Rahebi have created the first truly waste-free coffee cup. It seems fitting that this innovation took place in the unofficial coffee capital of the world, and the duo are just getting started.
If you can’t find a stockist near you, consider approaching your local cafe and suggesting they offer this world-first initiative in waste-free, edible coffee cups for a fun, tasty experience that can help protect our planet.