Collaboration, innovation and creativity are at the heart of the work that we do at Rio Nuevo. Influencing the relationships that we have built with our partners in Ecuador, the day-to-day operations of our business, and our vision for the future, these values inform many of the long and short-term decisions that we make on a regular basis.
Our Pyramid was developed with these values in mind. A fully biodegradable, plastic-free, beautifully designed vessel for our speciality drinking chocolate, our Pyramid is an attempt to rethink the way in which our industry impacts both the growers who supply our cacao and the consumers who buy our chocolate. This project was an experimental, collaborative attempt to find an attractive and practical alternative to the single-use plastic packaging that has become the standard across our industry, balancing form and function and incorporating beautiful, innovative designs alongside a revolutionary, paradigm-shifting new bio material, seaweed.
A collaboration between our team at Rio Nuevo, award-winning, internationally recognised photographer, Andy Hughes and Notpla’s cutting edge collective of scientists, chemical engineers, our Pyramid was designed with both the planet and the consumer in mind.
A Revolutionary Bio Material
It is biodegradable, renewable, microplastics-free and even edible!
Not all alternatives to single-use plastics are created equal. Utilising seaweed, an incredibly efficient, environmentally friendly crop, as their base material, Notpla have been able to create an innovative, versatile new material that doesn’t need to be recycled, composted or specially treated in any way. Degrading naturally over a short period of time this revolutionary alternative to plastic avoids many of the hidden pitfalls often exhibited by more conventional bioplastics.
Founded in 2014 by Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier, Notpla were the ideal company to partner with for the design and manufacture of the interior section of our pyramid. Providing us with a food-safe, fully biodegradable container derived from seaweed, a crop which takes up considerably less land and resources than other, more conventional plastic alternatives. Notpla’s support and expertise have been invaluable assets in our attempt to address our reliance upon the traditional plastic packaging that has become the standard across our industry.
In our search for a suitable image to display on the outside of our Pyramid, we found the ideal partner in Andy Hughes. An award-winning, internationally recognised environmental photographer based near Rio Nuevo’s headquarters in Cornwall, Andy’s work interrogates the invasive role that plastic-waste plays in the natural ecosystems within which it can be found. Providing us with a beautiful, poignant image of a supermarket sandwich box which has been washed clean, clarified and stripped of its familiarity by its time in the Cornish sea, Andy’s input into the overall design of our Pyramid’s aesthetics was crucial to the overall success of the project.
We decided at the very beginning of this project that we wanted to design a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing product that could capture the attention of our customers and start conversations while demonstrating the practical viability of new, ecologically friendly alternatives to plastic.
The origami housing for The Pyramid was intended to function as more than just a protective shell, and instead acts as a fold out catalogue, providing our customer with more information relating to the development of the project and a poster that they can keep long after the seaweed interior has broken down.
The seaweed pyramid is housed in a beautifully designed, foldable origami outer shell that doubles as a poster. Providing our customers with an exciting, beautifully designed foldable exterior, that can be hold onto long after the Pyramid’s seaweed interior has harmlessly dissolved.
We created our Pyramid to be beautiful as well as functional. A carefully designed, visually intriguing object, it functions as both a practical trail of Notpla's revolutionary biomaterial, and as an attractive, luxury product that can be shared, enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.
While it might seem odd for a chocolate company to invest so much time and energy into a project like this, we view this project as a natural extension of our commitment to the long-term welfare and success of the cacao communities in Ecuador with whom we have partnered.
Contributing to the warming of our oceans, food insecurity and the collapse of vital natural ecosystems, plastic-waste is an issue that reaches far beyond national and geographical boundaries. By working to reduce our plastic footprint, we’re not just helping to keep our oceans, forests and few remaining wild spaces clean; we’re helping to reduce the pressure on cacao farmers in the developing world whose livelihoods rely upon the success of increasingly unpredictable harvests.
Our Pyramid is an expression of the way in which we like to do business. By working together, and combining the talents of experts across a variety of fields, we believe that we can provide an outsized contribution to the problems that we all face. Whether we’re working to raise the living standards of our growers, or to reduce our own plastic footprint, we think that embracing a collaborative approach and pooling our collective expertise with new partners is the best way to achieve true innovation.