Author’s Blurb: I don’t get bubble milk tea very often anymore, but every time I used to do so, I would feel slightly guilty for using plastic. I mean, I recycle it, but it’s probably better to just completely avoid producing or contributing to plastic waste.
While Sam Loh was studying at the University of Queensland, Australia, he was exposed to the country’s green culture.
Having studied for a while in the country myself, I can confidently say that their attitudes towards waste production and management are a lot more sustainable than ours in Malaysia.
Inspired by what he saw there, Sam came up with the concept of developing a plastic-free reusable bubble tea cup when he returned to Malaysia.
It was a no-brainer: bubble tea is loved by many here, and the amount of single-use plastic waste generated by this indulgence is continuously increasing.
With that, he founded OneCup in late 2019, hoping to play a part in reducing the environmental impact of our bubble tea culture not just in Malaysia, but across the world.
Mere months after their launch, they had cinched a collaboration with Tealive to produce the bubble tea giant’s reusable cups.
Sustainable Is In Style
At a starting price of RM59.90 per cup, you can just hear the groans of cheapskate Malaysians all over.
Yes, there are cheaper ones out there, but compare them to OneCup’s and you’d see the difference in design and even quality.
“Our cups are made of food grade silicone and borosilicate glass,” Sam told Vulcan Post. “Also, we use materials such as recyclable packaging boxes when delivering as well to avoid using plastic.”
As sad and materialistic as it may sound, an attractive product is usually the first step of catching a consumer’s interest, so Sam made sure that OneCup was stylish too.
OneCup’s design also addressed a few other issues he noticed with existing reusable cups on the market.
“Before we first started OneCup as a brand and a solution, what we realised was the available reusable cups in the market weren’t actually cups. They were mason jars.”
While they were good alternatives for reducing single-use plastics, they were often heavy, bulky and even rejected by bubble tea stores as they didn’t indicate volume measurements. (You know, so that the stores don’t unintentionally give you more or less bubble tea.)
“OneCup was designed to solve all those issues. It’s lightweight and has grooves that indicate the 500ml and 700ml volume (which are most bubble tea drink sizes),” Sam explained.
Along with the RM59.90 price tag, you get a steel straw, cleaner brush and drawstring bag. If you want some personal touches on your cup, you can get a monogram on it at an extra cost.
At the moment, the cups are available in 3 millennial-pleasing colours: Shadow Blue, Coral Pink, and Sherbet Orange.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
In order for the brand to gain traction, OneCup’s small team of 2, consisting of Sam and Esther, its Creative Director based in the US, approached a majority of bubble tea brands here.
They were hoping for a collaboration, but Sam said that they weren’t picky since the end goal was the same regardless—to reduce single-use plastics in the bubble tea industry.
Aside from OneCup’s main design (as described in the previous section), there’s another one that’s strawless, where the toppings are located in a top compartment separate from the drink.
“We were very grateful to be able to collaborate with Tealive because not only are they the number 1 tea brand in Southeast Asia but by collaborating with them, they would set a great example to all the other brands and competitors,” Sam said.
“We hope this is the very big step to convince more bubble tea brands to use reusables or alternatives to plastic products and if that’s what we need to do, we’ll keep trying to convince other brands.”
While OneCup isn’t profitable yet, they’re still gaining traction and have sold close to 5,000 cups since their launch.
Moving forward, they’d like to execute innovative plans on making their cups leak proof and available in more colours.
Bottom Line: Compared to other reusable cups on the market, I think OneCup’s is definitely one of the more attractive ones I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that they have a USP, which is designing their cups for bubble tea specifically. Knowing that their cup won’t be easily rejected by stores would give customers like me some peace of mind and encourage more of us to use it.
- You can read more Tealive related articles here.
Featured Image Credit: OneCup