How much air pollution do we now cause with the production of our tableware? Where does our raw material come from? How far did this material have to travel? And what are the emissions of this? In short, what is the particulate matter footprint of one cup?

At first the choice seemed logical to purchase our porcelain from a German porcelain manufacturer. The material would come from German clay quarries, relatively close by. However, after deeper research, it turned out that the porcelain consists of a mix of kaolin from quarries from all over the world. This makes sense for the manufacturer because it can offer a stable product. For us it was a disappointment because we wanted to produce the tableware with local raw materials.

Since no manufacturer has exactly stated on its packaging what exactly is in it and where it comes from, we have used all the information that is available on the internet. For this study we looked at what is plausible, so the results are averages.

The kaolin comes from quarries as far as New Zealand and Thailand. It is shipped to Rotterdam via transshipment stations and mixing platforms with enormous container ships. These container ships create significant amounts of air pollution.

This video shows that this logistics process creates 0.48 grams of particulate matter per espresso cup. And that is quite a lot if you know that a person in Rotterdam inhales one gram in 10 years.

Thanks to our intern Liselot Cobelens for her contribution to this design research.