Saving the world, a cup at a time

Red Cup Village founder Luvuyo Ndiki.

A young Sunningdale entrepreneur’s company is behind a plan it claims will give South Africa its first 3D-printed cup made from a biodegradable plastic.

Lifestyle brand, Red Cup Village, plans to launch the cup in May, using 3D printing and a polylactide (PLA) filament.

The filament is a biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from sugar cane and corn-starch.

Red Cup Village founder Luvuyo Ndiki, 28, said: “We take the corn and turn it into a resin. We then turn that into something resembling plastic.

“The next step is to mould that into a cup, which is what we are in the business of doing. Back in the day, our grandmothers would iron; they would always use starch in the process and would use it on the collar to give it a solid sort of texture.

“That is what we’re doing with these new cups.”

Mr Ndiki was born in Butterworth but grew up in the small village of Bathurst in the Eastern Cape.

“My grandmother always taught me to use things that were already at my disposal and try to create new things.

“I grew up in a big family, and I always grew up with values on how to share.

“I was inspired by my grandmother’s stories, especially about a woman who used a wooden cup to unite two rival tribes.

“She invited them so they could talk, and without them even realising, they were sharing the same cup,” he said.

It was that story, he said, that had inspired him to create a brand that drew together people from different walks of life.

“South Africans need to inspire others and unite as one. And it is not just about party cups but rather a full consumer experience,” he said.

Mr Ndiki said the new cups, unlike ordinary plastics, were 100% biodegradable.

“We went this route because we feel it’s important to go green and try to do our part in trying to save the planet because these normal plastics take hundreds of years to decompose and that will ultimately hurt the future generation.”

The company now had three registered design patents with pending international trademarks, he said.

“I’m sure there are companies that manufacture biodegradable products and cups, but we are definitely the first to use 3D technology in the process,” he said.