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" Loop it"Coffee grounds lids

Closing the loop by replacing plastic lids with coffee grounds lids

Photo of Jahrita Ungell
9 4

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The Why:

Loop It serves the purpose of avoiding coffee spills and retaining heat, which are the primary functions of a lid.

The What:

The idea is to develop a system that entails the production of ‘Loop It’ biscuits made from coffee grounds that are used to replace the plastic lids on coffee cups.

Loop It has a fruit leather layer applied to its underside to slow the degradation of the biscuit from the hot liquid.

Loop It is tapered so that it can simply be pushed into the top of the coffee cup; either paper disposable or reusable.

Loop It would be made in a couple of sizes to suit the standard sized cups currently on the market.

The How: 

The production of the Loop It biscuits would likely be conducted a central point where coffee grounds are collected from cafes such as a coffee roaster. Here, the facility would have installed production machinery including an oven and press to produce the biscuits using the coffee grounds.

Whilst not designed to be eaten, Loop It would need to meet food safety/hygiene specifications, such as avoiding the presence of mould due to the moisture in the coffee grounds.

Key considerations:

The economics need to be modeled but the idea is considered to be feasible given the following cost savings in the supply chain:

- Lower waste disposal costs

- Lower purchase costs for lids

If a coffee roaster adopted the Loop It certified manufacturer, there is no additional transport as coffee ground returns match delivery of coffee and Loop It.

Idea Title

Loop it!

Company / Organization Name

TheHakkas is a Non-for-Profit based in Melbourne; we run networking events, learning experiential events and exploratory programs.

Website

Facebook.com/thehakkas.co

Where are you / your team located?

Melbourne, Australia

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

This system entails the production of ‘Loop It’ biscuits made from coffee grounds, used to replace the plastic lids on coffee cups and consequently removes the waste. Loop It has a fruit leather layer applied to its underside to slow the degradation of the biscuit from the hot liquid. It's tapered so that it can simply be pushed into the top of the coffee cup; either paper disposable or reusable. It would be made in a couple of sizes to suit the standard sized cups currently on the market.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case 3 (Take-away coffee lids), impacting Lucas and Anna.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Areas with high concentration of cafes (CBD) and surrounding suburbs.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

3 key moments of the journey: first the engagement with the coffee roaster: to get a better understanding of the current machines used to ground the coffee beans. This assessment will feed the design of the Loop it machine. This assessment is followed by the build of the prototype of the Loop it machine, involving manufacturers of similar machines (e.g. Germany supplier) and cafe owners. Finally, the testing of the prototype through the production of the lids as well as their use by customers.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Goal is to raise awareness & contribute to the Circular Economy. Success includes testing and validation of the manufacturing process and constant iteration with coffee roasters, café owners & customers. Steps include further research with coffee roasters, the prototyping of the machine, the production of guides to show techniques to dry the grounds & the understanding of the legal process to avoid breaches of hygiene standards and creation of IP and certification for members of the Loop it club

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

A team brainstorm followed by the build of a prototype and a feedback session in the cafes of Melbourne.

9 comments

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Comment
Photo of Alice
Team

Hey guys, good news is we've solved chemical equation for the production here in Canada, yeah thanks to the University of Toronto chemistry kids !

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/feedback/coffeeld-a-reusable-coffee-lid-made-out-of-waste-coffee-grounds

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Jahrita!

Interesting idea! Great photos and description as well!

What are the next steps in developing your idea?

What sort of feedback did you receive from the prototyping session?

Where does this idea fit into the current system? Are there economic, societal, or infrastructural shifts need to occur for your idea to be implemented at scale?

Photo of Alice
Team

Hi Kate:

this idea is very similar to what I've posted before:

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/feedback/coffeeld-a-reusable-coffee-lid-made-out-of-waste-coffee-grounds

Thanks for viewing.

Photo of Anthony Peyton
Team

Great minds think alike ;)

Photo of Anthony Peyton
Team

Hi Kate,
Our team (Jahrita Ungell et al) has plenty of work to do to bring this idea to fruition. We need to determine what ingredients are needed to produce a biscuit that won't readily crack or dissolve when sitting atop a hot beverage and how we are able to address the presence of mould, both isolation and treatment.

We then need to build a business case that considers the costs of production and the benefits to the cafe and producer.

The feedback was good as people could see the benefit of doing away with the plastic lids. It was varied though with some respondents seeing the benefits of using the waste coffee grounds whereas others preferring the idea of producing an edible biscuit to replace the plastic lid (small sample only). It was certainly a good idea to have the prototype there to show the coffee drinkers, which helped to validate the technical feasibility of the idea.

In Australia, coffee businesses are already looking at the recovery of coffee grounds for re-purposing, with Planet Ark championing this initiative (http://planetark.org/campaigns/coffee.cfm). We would therefore work closely with Planet Ark to progress this idea as they are looking at higher value solutions rather than just composting. We are also connected to the Australian Coffee Traders Association, which has recently formed a committee to consider sustainability initiatives that should be instigated by the local industry, including coffee grounds recovery. The industry momentum is clearly there to recover the grounds and we may have a good solution for adding value and simultaneously removing plastic lids from the industry.

The other area that is seeing increased momentum in Australia is the the recycling of food waste in the green waste kerbside collections ("FOGO"). Many Councils now allow this to occur and the availability of this service is expected to increase rapidly. With widespread access to a food waste recycling services, coffee consumers will be able to dispose the Loop Its in the FOGO bins, thereby avoiding landfill.

Even if the Loop It is disposed to landfill though, this solution would at least give the coffee grounds one more life by replacing plastic.

In terms of sustainability, Loop Its can only be produced if coffee is being consumed, so the idea is considered to be an example of the circular economy.

Photo of Soren
Team

Howdy! We've been dreaming about doings something with coffee grounds for a while - as amazingly only 2-3% of the weight of the coffee bean is actually used (extracted) during brewing! A team down-under makes this: https://www.huskee.co/ - very cool but a bit gimmicky in our opinion. It would make more sense to make multi-use lids like you suggest!

Photo of Anthony Peyton
Team

Thanks for your feedback :) I see that huskee is making durable cups from coffee husks rather than coffee grounds. What additives (food) do you think we'd need to use to bind the coffee grounds together? let us know if you'd like to join our team!

Photo of Anthony Peyton
Team

Well done team!!

Photo of Jahrita Ungell
Team

Yes! Thanks Anthony. Loved how effortless you were in reaching out to cafe customers. Well done all!