Edible coffee cup startup Uuvipak wins $50,000 prize in Nespresso circular economy competition

Uuvipak founders

Uuvipak founders Andy Epifani and Dr Shafali Gupta. Source: supplied.

A Brisbane company aiming to produce edible coffee cups from flour byproducts is the first winner of Nespresso’s StartCup competition, earning $50,000 to fund its circular economy vision.

Uuvipak, founded by cellular and molecular biologist Dr Shafali Gupta and developer Andy Epifani, earned the top award at Nespresso StartCup award night, held on Thursday in Sydney.

The early-stage company claims it can upcycle materials otherwise wasted in the grain flour production cycle for use in fully edible cups, bowls and plates.

Products made from this “magic powder” are vegan and 100% biodegradable, Uuvipak says. Importantly for coffee-drinkers, the company also says its cups are capable of holding hot beverages for up to 14 hours before disintegrating.

Uuvipak joins Australian startups like Good Edi in the edible coffee cup game, as manufacturers find novel solutions to the problem of excess packaging waste.

As for the flavour? Uuvipak claims the products taste like Weet-Bix.

The company’s founders say they were motivated to develop their products to cut down on disposable packaging waste, which still accounts for a major portion of Australia’s landfill mix.

“After noticing the amount of packaging that we accumulated every day in our households, we decided to look for a better alternative to soft and hard single-use plastics,” Gupta and Epifani said in a statement.

Uuvipak products

Uuvipak products. Source: Kickstarter.

The StartCup funding comes just over a month after Uuvipak raised $26,000 via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

Uuvipak has also previously received support from University of Queensland Ventures and the startup is a member of the 2022 Ocean Impact Accelerator Program.

Uuvipak says it will begin shipping products in mid-2023.

The startup’s competition entry “inspired both our jury and the public with its creativity and potential for positive impact,” said Nespresso managing director Jean-Marc Dragoli.

Runners-up in the StartCup competition include Gaia Project, an AI-powered system reducing energy and water usage for indoor leafy green plant farming, and Tackle Labs’ NOGO Bin, a collection system for compostable baby nappies.

“The quality and quantity of submissions leaves me without a doubt that Australia can move, powered by bright ideas and innovation, toward a shared net-zero, circular economy,” Dragoli said.

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