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Circular Coffee lids to close the loop

Close the loop of Coffee Shops systems by using their organic waste to create biodegradable coffee lids

Photo of Fernanda Garza

Written by

One of Circular Economy's principles is System Thinking; in order to solve a big problem one must look at the whole picture instead of looking just at the final product. As exposed during the Research phase, we have seen the Mexican Coffee Shop's inputs, outputs, Stakeholders, users, etc. In order to close the loop of Coffee Shops, and strengthening our proposal with information about biopolymers during the Research phase, we propose an organic coffee waste - based Coffee Lid that in order to close the entire loop, contains an embedded coffee seed. Once the coffee lid is thrown away at the establishment, the coffee lid is collected and then placed under appropriate conditions to completely biodegrade and grow up a coffee plant to start the cycle again. (Coffee - waste - coffee lid )

The idea evolved during this phase after making a research on target markets, user profiles, learning about Coffee Shops waste collection systems in México, making User Map Activity, making Interviews and developing the Business Plan. Collaboration between IDEO Challenge users has started and it may bring great results.

Idea Title

RE-born Coffee Lid

Company / Organization Name



Where are you / your team located?

Monterrey, México.

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

The coffee lid biodegrades in no more than 120 days under appropriate conditions. In other words, we disappear trash. Also using coffee organic waste obtained from coffee shops processes, and we connect the cycle with a seed starting a new coffee cycle again after degrading the product. We have found that in México, Coffee Shops pay for waste collection service. Once they have collected the establishment’s waste, they classify and sale. Coffee waste isn’t classified nor sold.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case number 3. Anne

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

México/ Latin America

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The Coffee market is growing in México and Sustainability as a megatrend too. The main obstacle might be the resistance for change and it will be overcome with patience and lots of persistence.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • 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.

Our goals are: Support for more prototyping, piloting and tutoring. Worldwide tutors always empower businesses and change an Entrepreneur's mindset in a good way! Success will be definitely defined first by winning this competition, that would open a lot of doors worldwide. As I mentioned once during the final phase of my last Sustainable Entrepreneurial Award: Financial support is an important step that every Start up is look for, but tutoring and networking are priceless.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

It started in Barcelona, after certificate in Sustainable Products and Processes, evolved as a Business Plan winning 2 National Awards and a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Award at Japan. Biocon, the company I founded is already working with breweries,we transform their brewing waste into bioplastic for beer packaging enabling circularity and innovation. I graduated on December from the 1st "Circular Business Model Design" program in Mexico by Ellen MacArthur F (Ken Webster) & EGADE Business School

Tell us about your work experience

100% Entrepreneur. Winner of: FRISA Entrepreneurial Innovation by Tec de Monterrey, Coahuila St Sustainable Entrepreneur at Tokyo, Finalist at Santander National Award for Entrepreneurial Development.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure


Please describe, in detail, your business model and how you intend to test and iterate this model.

Our proposal consists on a Coffee Lid made by coffee waste with a coffee seed embedded. When collected and placed on soil, the product biodegrades and a coffee plant stars growing to close the loop and start the coffee cycle once again. For this Business Model, we want to make an alliance with regional waste collectors and pay a fee for picked coffee waste. The product lifecycle end: (Waste Disappears, closes the loop and generates profits).

Please explain how your innovation will work within, potentially improve, and provide benefit to the plastics system.

Biocon’s coffee lid will not generate waste; the product will be part of the Renewable Flow Management from the Butterfly Diagram. The product will be collected by the Regional Coffee Shop’s waste collector, placed into appropriate conditions to degrade and start coffee cycle again by an embedded coffee seed on the product.

Please describe, in depth, how your solution will reduce the overall environmental footprint of packaging.

Biocon’s Coffee Lid made by coffee waste does not increase environmental footprint. Compared to the LCA of a common Coffee Lid, our product reduces carbon footprint from plastic as raw material (aprox. 2.098 Kg CO2 Eq. Per Kg) and carbon footprint at the end of life (aprox. 2.99 Kg CO2 Eq. Per Kg). We will be able to accomplish this Carbon Footprint reduction by eliminating Disposal and Raw Material extraction processes.

Please outline how your design, material, and delivery choices will influence price, and how you intend to address the price increase that may result from this solution.

We have found recently that a lower price is not always a competitive advantage, value creation does. Companies with several profiles are so committed with environment that accept an extra charge in costs. We assume that developing coffee lids made by coffee waste, the costs may react similar to our existing product and impact in +1-5% in price compared to traditional packaging.

Please explain how your solution will impact user behavior, and what design considerations you've included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions with your Idea. 

Our project will maintain the conventional Coffee Lid design and just change the material and add an embedded seed on it. This will help the user to understand what is the product’s function. A correct disposal from the user is also important and we will promote the disposal on a trash can made by the same coffee lid material with an explanation on it.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

In my personal experience developing prototypes is the hardest part on an Entrepreneurial process. You need time, money, passion and persistence; an investment is hard to find before a functional prototype is developed. I would use the prize for R&D.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford

Hi Fernanda,

Very clever idea. I really like the prototyping you've completed to date and I look forward to seeing updates during the next phase.

I see that you've mentioned about tutoring, do you mean about improving the public knowledge about recycling and biodegradable products? If so, that is a very good idea. Changing people's perspective on how they use these type of products will be difficult. But maybe you could also have an educational app that helps people better understand what is happening to their cup. If the cup is planted nearby, they could have a 120-day countdown for when it fully decomposes and receive reminders.

Best of luck in the coming weeks. Looking forward to updates.


Photo of Fernanda Garza

Hi Louise Clifford , thank you for your comments. Of course change goes beyond just a product, but we can create change in mindsets by design, this is what we're trying to accomplish!. And yes, we have made some research and people, at least in my country, want to track their impact when they help in any subject; it makes them easier to picture their positive impact by translating it into tangible and clear examples. An app would definitely be a good complement to help them "track" their positive impact.

Thank you for your good vibes!

Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford

Hi Fernanda,

If you require research abroad, I am currently located in Ireland and would be happy to help you where possible. The type of change you are talking about is so positive and could be greatly influenced by design.


Photo of Fernanda Garza

Wow, I'm so glad to read this!!! Thank you Louise Clifford , it would be very very helpful to understand the system behind Coffee Shops in Ireland. We may start comparing Coffee Shop systems worldwide and understand what can we adapt from each system into another. The research may take some time (more than IDEO's Deadline) but I will love to continue the research and see what we get!!


Photo of Louise Sarah Clifford

Hi Fernanada,

Just let me know if I can be of any assistance!


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