MicroGreen: Recycled Plastic Cups Cut Heat and Waste


MicroGreen Polymers, a Seattle-area startup company, is working on a new coffee cup that is more durable and insulated than traditional paper cups and is produced entirely from recycled soda-pop bottles. Though still in the development stages, MicroGreen is confident they can produce coffee cups that are 15 percent to 20 percent cheaper than others on the market. The company has licensed a thermoformed plastic technique from the University of Washington that infuses microscopic bubbles into solid plastic. The bubbles, 50 to 100 of which could fit on a human hair, create what MicroGreen VP James Sutton calls the "honeycomb effect" -- a structure that requires less material, something that Sutton said appeals to makers of packaged goods. "We are literally getting more miles on the plastic, and that is kind of like being more fuel-efficient," he said. The technology creates a high temperature resistance, up to 400 degrees, making it possible to create not only coffee cups but microwavable plates, trays and other dishware. Still more than a year from being commercially available, MicroGreen recently scored $2.4 million in financing to expand to more food-packaging solutions, and has plans to license the technology to other food packaging companies and even a Japanese electronics maker which is using the material in LCD televisions. Discussions also have occurred with a European car manufacturer and American coffee retailers, which represent a huge potential market. Eat your hearts out, packaging waste finalists. ::MicroGreen via tipster Chris and ::Seattle Post-Intelligencer