A fuss over a lid

This is probably the most mundane subject I bring up here, but hey- I need to get it out of my system. It’s about this thing.

It’s not because I’m unfamiliar with this object. On the contrary, I used to use this thing a lot of times during my commuting years in The Netherlands. When you have to catch a morning train, especially in Fall and Winter, or on your way back, when the sky’s already dark before 4pm, the wind’s blowing hard and cold, and you think of nothing much else but your warm home, it’s such a comfort to have one of these in your already-enveloped-in-gloves hands while waiting for the train to come and/or to depart at the platform of a train station. Filled with a piping hot drink of your choice (mine’s usually hot chocolate or cappuccino), ready to be consumed sip by sip before it loses its heat.

See, in such situation, it’s necessary to have such an elaborate design for a lid. A throw-away-after-each-use plastic lid for a throw-away-after-each-use paper cup. I was indeed delighted when I first saw the details put into such lid. See here: it has a tiny hole that allows smooth sipping; moreover, it also has a part that can be loosened to reveal a gap where you’d put your mouth.

But one has to be extra careful in estimating the distance between the gap and the hot liquid, the elevation and the speed of the hand tilting the cup, so no tongue would get scalded.

Anyway. Back to the details of the lid. The “lock” is a pretty neat trick, or so I thought, since one doesn’t have to throw away a small part, as with a beverage can, while one also doesn’t have to be bothered by a hanging piece of whatever that might obstruct the sipping process.

This type of lid is getting quite common now in Indonesia, although I think it’s for the worse, not for the better. Why? Regardless of all meticulous details it offers: this thing must have been imported (a quick Google search directed producers’ location in China, duh) and we don’t have a proper recycling system yet to handle plastic waste so it will end up along with other plastic varieties in landfills. This lid will outlive the beverage, the paper cup, and the person who drank and purchased the whole thing by tens of years.

I’m not saying that we should ban this lid altogether, for this is a wonderfully engineered, designed utility object – if used within an appropriate condition. Considering that the one I use as a model here comes from a fast food restaurant (I don’t think the urgency is there to serve every dine-in customer with this type of cup & lid), we should think of a better system that doesn’t generate waste or excess materials that we can’t process.

3 thoughts on “A fuss over a lid

  1. Fairy

    Hi Larasa, I am a friend of Rani’s from neighboring Malaysia, totally appreciated your writeup about these coffee cup lids, who knew so much went on behind the design and engineering of these things. Recycling processes in Asia are lackluster compared to what’s being practiced inthe West much longer than we ever have, so that is pretty sad too. All in all, great and interesting writeup, thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: A fuss over a lid part 2 « o2 Indonesia

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