Tuesday 26 March 2019

Irish cup maker in talks with global beverage brands

Tommy McLoughlin, CEO of Butterfly Cup
Tommy McLoughlin, CEO of Butterfly Cup

Fearghal O'Connor

Irish paper cup company Hanpak - which trades as Butterfly Cup - has been shortlisted for the final of a major competition to find a next-generation disposable coffee and soft drinks cup.

The NextGen Cup Challenge is a worldwide collaboration between Starbucks, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Yum! (owner of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut), and the World Wildlife Fund to solve the environmental challenges surrounding single-use plastic-coated paper cups.

The disposal of the 250 billion disposable cups that are used annually around the world has become a major environmental issue.

Butterfly Cup has been shortlisted from the 480 entries received from 53 countries.

But, according to chief executive Tommy McLaughlin, the shortlisting has provided a huge opportunity to showcase the product to the world's biggest brand beverage retailers.

More than 5 million Butterfly Cups are already produced each month under license from the Co Laois-based firm, and one major firm has begun testing the new design with its own customers in the UK and in Indonesia.

"Many of the world's major beverage retail brands have expressed strong interest in Butterfly Cup, which is being regarded by many industry experts as the answer to a problem that has perplexed the beverage industry for 20 years," said CEO Tommy McLoughlin.

"Butterfly Cup's unique design eliminates the need for lids or straws. Using paperboard recently developed in Finland, Butterfly Cup can be recycled along with regular paper - unlike any disposable coffee cup product currently available."

McLoughlin said that the company is talking to "most of the big guys in the world and we are at various stages in the approval process. He said the company was in various stages of talks with at least five of the top ten relevant brands in the world.

The original concept for the Butterfly Cup was developed by Trinity College mechanical engineering graduate Joe Lu before McLaughlin came on board as an investor.

The company has since raised €800,000 in EIS funding and has received backing from the former chief executive of fast food kitchen manufacturer H&K International Brian Ranalow.

The company has spent six years developing an innovative design that does not require the use of any plastic and which does away with plastic straws and lids. As part of the proposition it has invested more than half a million euro in patents to protect its design and it now charges a license fee to cup manufacturers to produce the product on modified machines that the company has developed.

"The reward could be massive. This is a volume-driven proposition. To date we have three licensees to manufacture the cup - one in China, one in Indonesia and one in South Korea and we have three more in the pipeline that are well advanced."

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