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Cuppuccino - temporary reusable coffee cup

Inexpensive reusable and recyclable disposable coffee cup with integrated, hinged lid and sleeve.

Photo of Matt Jones
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[NOW in PROTOTYPE STAGE]

The focus of this design looks to address two of the proposed problem items - coffee cup lids and plastic straws.

People don't respond well to change - at least initially. Give them what they want - but in a way that makes it easier for them to do the right thing. Change will follow.

People value convenience and want their coffee on the go. Without a fundamental change in habits, people will continue to seek out disposable cups. Forgetting their 'cup-for-life' on the wash rack at home, or at their office desk will continue to be the downfall of well-meaning intentions. Breaking the re-use habit before it has a chance to start. The challenge is less to break the need for disposable cups, but to encourage more responsible manufacture of disposable cups.

Integrating the components of our coffee culture into one easily disposable, yet reusable, cup, made from a commonly recyclable plastic achieves numerous goals (providing the design accommodates what the culture has grown to expect).

What does coffee culture expect?

  • The design must have the ability to allow the lid to be opened and closed.
  • The design must allow for people to drink with the lid opened or closed.
  • The design must contain the liquid, preventing it from easily spilling as the consumer walks.
  • The design must prevent the consumer from burning their fingers on the outer walls of the coffee cup.
  • The design ideally allows for a consumer to use a straw.
  • The design must be stackable, allowing for minimal storage overheads.
  • The design must accommodate branding / printed graphics.
  • The design must be reusable (but not necessarily indestructible or require costly materials) - A cup for the day/week - not for life.


From an environmental standpoint, the planet benefits from:

  • A design that is made of a single reusable and recyclable material - ideally, made from recycled materials itself.
  • A design that avoids multiple parts - no small pieces that can be pulled off.
  • A design that is recognisable as recyclable - prompting recycling
  • A design that is recognisable as reusable - prompting reuse
  • A design that people favour over less easily recyclable products - prompting use.


Proposed solution:

The proposed solution is a single reusable and recyclable material plastic cup with integrated sleeve and hinged lid, with a strong grip straw holder. Additionally, straws using the same material allow for the straw to be recycled together with the cup.

The design features:

See attached sketchpad notes [UPDATED].

  • The hinge allows for the lid to be delivered open allowing for the cups to be stacked, keeping storage and shipping costs low.
  • The hinged lid flips over to cover the cup opening and provides a reasonably tight (mechanical) seal - preventing spills.
  • The lid includes a (mechanically) resealable pull tab creating a small opening [spout] from which to drink the contents of the cup.
  • [UPDATED] A centre vent hole shaped as an X serves a dual purpose, allowing the insertion of a straw (made of the same materials) with the points of the X being forced down, it makes the straw hard (but not impossible) to remove the straw. Enabling both the straw (of the same material) and integrated cup design to be recycled as one.
  • The fins enveloping the cups outer walls replace the need for a cardboard sleeve - demonstrating similar but increased effects of preventing the consumer from burning their fingers from touching the exposed walls of the coffee cup when drinking a hot beverage.
  • The design of the fins around the cup can accommodate TWO areas of any desired shape, least likely to be held when drinking from the cup, for (pad printed) branding.
  • The base of the cup is raised in the middle to ensure that most condensation and/or heat of the cup does not transfer to a table / counter top.


It is recommended that this cup design is marketed as a temporary reusable cup, and that coffee shops are encouraged to refund consumers for returning their cups for disposal. This can be in the form of a discount, as with the 'cups-for-life' incentive many shops now employ. Customers can either reuse their cup or have it replaced for a new one. Either way - promoting reuse where possible and recycling where undesirable.

I've named this idea 'Cuppuccino' - a play on the words Cup and Cappuccino.


For the judges:

In response to the evaluation criteria:

Circular economy for plastics: The proposed solution enables the elimination of non-recyclable small-format plastics waste for the category of disposable coffee cups, with the same design principles enabling other multi-material disposable packaging (e.g. See PopLock Crisp Tube Container). The idea aims to reduce complexity in the system by making the whole cup, lid and sleeve integrated and clearly identifiable as recyclable plastic.

  • In the UK alone, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups end up in landfill every year. 10,000 every 2 minutes. If 1 in every 100 cups were reused only once, that would prevent over 68,000 cups ending up in landfill EVERY day - 25,000,000 per annum. What's more, that cup could be reused longer and when no longer of use, recyclable without any small waste components or mixed-materials.
  • Clearing the confusion of whether a disposable coffee cup is general / mixed waste, paper or plastic should have a demonstrable impact on recycling. The entire unit is completely integrated - cup, lid and sleeve made of a single recyclable (and potentially biodegradable) material, with the ability to hold on tightly to a straw of the same material, aims to eliminate any doubt.
  • Reusable coffee cups are usually an added expense and commitment (no matter how small). Such cups create guilt/irritation when the user forgets their cup. Owning one prevents the user from considering a second purchase - reverting to disposable cups, and breaking a good habit before it has had a chance to form. It can also build into regret for having to lug around a bulky or dirty cup; Or an expensive novelty item when they feel compelled to throw it away after a weekend left on a windowsill at the office, growing mould. The Cuppuccino concept provides an inexpensive reusable coffee cup that can be disposed of if no longer needed and has the benefit of training people on being observant of their own habits. If a coffee drinker is able to learn that they can use one or more reusable cups, then they are more likely to switch to ones that last indefinitely. Perhaps filling the gaps with a temporary reusable cup without facing guilt.
  • So far, signs are positive towards finding a material that is biodegradable, and at the very least considerably environmentally conscious - e.g. using CPET (made from 70% recycled PET plastics), and is in itself recyclable. The manufacturers and wholesalers I've contacted so far are optimistic, making recommendations on tweaks I can implement to further improve the final product. I've also found a number of US coffee chains who are interested in trialing the product, and reaching out to UK franchises too.
  • A potential problem that I'm exploring at the moment is the amount of space consumed by integrating the lid. A stack of 20 cups would take up the space of 40, or a stack of 20 cups and 100 lids. In trial I want to look at how much of an impact this has on coffee shops. In the meantime, I'm busy looking at exploring recommended tweaks to make the product as compact as possible.


Innovative: The idea 'feels' logical, a sure sign of being on the right track. Possible competitive designs (I've ran a patent search for surety) have not been implemented in the way that I've conceptualised. Essentially the idea borrows small ideas from a multitude of potential solutions (not necessarily related to coffee cups) and considers how they can be integrated into a single unit. It's certainly on the scale of 'small' for innovation - and yet, the impact - both in the short term (reuse once/twice, recycle when done) and long term (learned behaviour switching to a cup-for-life) are huge.

Human-centred: The proof of the pudding will certainly be in the eating. Whilst I'm in the midst of making tweaks and printing prototypes in response to manufacturers and wholesalers, the real test will come in when I can afford the tooling to produce the first trial batch (the most expensive one off cost). I've already lined up a few coffee chains in the US (multiple dozens of locations), and reaching out to UK coffee chains to achieve the same. These chains are keen to support the initiative and are willing to provide feedback from both their own staff's standpoint as well as gauge that of their patrons.

  • This idea was based on Use Case 3 - Straws and take-away coffee lids - and provides a marked improvement for all 3 personas - Anne, Lucas and Nigel. Making the product easily identifiable as a single recyclable plastic; reducing guilt or confusion inherent with reusable coffee cups; establishing learned behaviour through repeatable, unbroken habits.
  • Let's be certain. This is not about making anyone person's life easier, but will make (one small part of) consumerism respectful of the materials used to satisfy convenience. (Cuppuccino is but one of a whole series of possible disposable packaging solutions). To the individual the solution creates the right nods towards the behaviours we hope to see from an environmentally conscious society, without emotional self-punishment when making a mistake. It is only when you elevate beyond the individual and look at the total impact do we see how such a small design choice can drive change.


Scalable: Right now, it's me and my 3D printer, a couple of coffee-forums, dialogue with a couple of potential manufacturers and a distributor, the kind attention from colleagues, friends and family and an insatiable appetite to succeed.

Whilst the idea will stall as a direct business opportunity for me without capital investment to cover tooling costs and initial material and distribution costs (~£25,000), a back-up will be to provide the design, under licence, to manufacturers to offer their own client base. The latter of which will need to be proven by obtaining visibility and support from challenges like this one.


Regionally relevant: The coffee culture has only continued to grow and proliferate urban society across the globe. No country or sleepy hollow has gone untouched by a Costa, Starbucks, Neros (or all three). It's an extremely cheap product, with high profit margins, that provides a stimulating inexpensive treat to commuters, office workers, students and factory workers. It is global and it shows no signs of slowing. The sheer consumption of coffee in disposable cups could be described as a pandemic if it were not for the opportunity to address the market with sound design thinking. Whether in Yeovil, Somerset, the South West, the UK or the world.

Accelerator readiness: I'm familiar with accelerator programmes and incubators, being involved in a number of businesses investing in such schemes (most recently, O2/Telefonica's Wayra and Digital Catapult's IoTUK and Things Connected Boosts). The opportunity for hands on practical support from industry players is exactly what I need to be able to nail down the nuanced challenges of taking a product like this to a global market. Whilst I have past experience in print, the past 18 years have been dedicated to digital. I need access to willing mentors on modelling, plastics, moulds, production volumes, warehousing, distribution, sales locally and across global markets. Recognition of industry players would help me make the right decisions to invest whatever I am able to be afforded into delivering a successful trial, and setting up the right contacts for production and growth.

Fortunately, I am an entrepreneur and a freelance consultant. I'm used to being uncertain, dealing with ambiguity and feeding off of support in any guise I can find it. I seek out opportunities and look for ways to drive solutions that benefit all parties. I've made a living from it and have yet to take up the opportunity to put myself forward to work through an accelerator myself. I've witnessed the power of such programmes and would relish the chance to be supported by one.

Feel free to check out recommendations on my LinkedIn profile to establish my character.

(c) Copyright 2017 Matt Jones matt@cranialscratch.com UK - All rights reserved.

Company / Organization Name

Uservox Limited Focused on product innovation, primarily in the digital space.

Website

www.uservox.com

Where are you / your team located?

Somerset, United Kingdom

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

The integrated cup. lid and sleeve design using a single recyclable plastic material, is made both to increase reusability temporarily and make it easier for recycling, with no small components or mixed materials. Should a straw, provided using the same plastic material, be used, the design grips onto the straw making it difficult to remove or separate.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This idea strongly supports Use Case 3 - Straws and take-away coffee lids - and provides a marked improvement for all 3 personas - Anne, Lucas and Nigel.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

With the 3D model designed, sample prototype prints are in production. Refinements will be made and will be used to conduct qualitative research with coffee store owners and their customers. Once feedback is incorporated into the design, the aim is to have a small batch produced for a small trial. At any point during these tests problems may occur due to inexperience in certain aspects of the production. I will be looking to build up contacts to increase knowledge and ensure viability.

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.

The access to mentors, contacts and support will be invaluable to being to take ideas further than proof of concept. This alone I feel would alleviate the financial burden of innovation, and enable me to thoroughly test, improve and ultimately mass produce or develop partnerships for production of one of a number of packaging concepts that I have developed over the years, and stalled due to finances and access to resources.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I spend much of my time looking at problems and seeking explanation, in the hope of finding solutions that resonate well with stakeholders and their customers alike. This design is but one of many that has spent too long in a sketchbook. One that this competition has inspired me to progress further.

Tell us about your work experience

My background has led me through design, marketing, user research, customer experience, and business strategy and innovation - primarily for digital products, with an earlier career in print.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Uservox Limited - Digital product innovation consultancy

44 comments

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Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Excited to have a few more coffee stores keen to trial. :)

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

Welcome to refinement!

A few questions:

Would you be able to elaborate more on the distribution / returning / cleaning infrastructure?

Would you allow exchange of cups between different chains?

Is there a way to address the tendency of coffee drinkers to want to dispose of their cups far away from where they bought it?

Also, there is another idea in refinement that you might want to check out: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/refinement/icecap - InLid - has a really good example of using video to demonstrate rapid prototyping and getting feedback from the users

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Kate Rushton , 

Thank you. Glad to have made it this far. I've been under the cosh lately, but here now. Let's see if I can answer your questions:

(Production) / Distribution / Returning / Cleaning Infrastructure:

Production: I feel production should be localised where possible, however economy of scale may drive greater consideration to keeping unit costs low by production being centralised and shipped to wholesalers and stores. At present, I have only investigated prototype volumes for production, in the UK, which makes the product costly to trial but is a necessary step in bringing the concept to market.

Distribution: The main intent is to onboard larger coffee chains to using the all in one cup, making the most of their existing logistics networks for distributing branded products. I'm considering looking to wholesalers - both specialist drink product wholesalers who can take care of printing; and general wholesalers.

Returning: Rather than the product being returned to the manufacturer, the product will be marked as a plastics recyclable - using the PET standard. Where chain stores support discounted refills and accept returns, the cup can also be marked with the text 'return for discount'.

Cleaning Infrastructure: The aim is to follow the standard practices for PET plastic recycling, where drink residue can be washed off during the shredding process.


Cup exchange:

I anticipate that most patrons will return to their coffee chain store brand of preference - whether the same store or one within the same chain, however, a smart retailer would be wise to accept returned cups from competitors in order to replace their cup with their own branded cup.


General disposal - outside of the coffee shop:

I would anticipate that the majority of coffee drinkers would dispose of their cup after a single use. However, with clear marking of the cup's reusability and recyclability, especially where brands support a 'return for discount' text, will help improve recyclability of the product in the following ways:

Reusability - promoting a reusable product that did not cost anything additional, should begin to promote reuse - especially where someone would like to reuse but finds themselves in situations where they constantly forget their cup-for-life. A product that is more forgiving if you forget (collect them and/or throw them away - in to a plastic recycling bin), and readily reusable when you remember.

Return for discount - increases the likelihood of reuse even more. Knowing that by using the same cup, a consumer can reduce the cost of their coffee consumption - earning themselves environmental street credit for doing so.

Stores who accept returned cups, whether for discount or recycling, will be able to express their own environmental standpoint by ensuring cups are cleaned and kept separate for ease of recycling.

Recyclability - with the cup combining all the component parts of the coffee-to-go culture, manufactured from a single recyclable plastic, marked clearly as a recyclable plastic, finally encourages consumers to dispose of their coffee cup responsibly. No more plastic lids in general waste or paper waste, and far more large single material plastic items in the plastic waste bin.

Should popularity for Cuppuccino be such that cups found in the wrong waste bin or left lying around would be easily identified as recyclable and appropriately collected and re-disposed.


Prototype user testing:

I'm somewhat frustrated by this one, as I can't get the prototype printed in time for the deadline. I'm going to look if I can ask those that have given me feedback on the designs to record the conversations - looking at the disposable nature of current coffee cups and what they think about an all in one cup, sleeve and lid being made from a single recyclable plastic. I hope that will suffice for the minute. :/

I hope that answers your questions. Thanks again Kate.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Cristina Faulkner
Team

Fantastic idea- Looks great and can easily be incorporated into the way cappucino is sold and consumed. Looks like your design also offers retailers a way to personalize the cups with their brand logos. This is a strong marketing aspect. Elegant design!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Thank you Cristina Faulkner - Sometimes the simplest improvements create the most impact.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Extremely excited to be in the Refinement Stage of the challenge. Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Staggering stats: Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40654915

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

Sad, but if you think of plastic as the shadowy byproduct of producing profit, you start to see that with sustainable circularity, not amassing piles of anything (profits, waste), that goes away. If we as a species saw it as a threat or a profitable as gold or better, all spent a year and spent 15% of all our time working on it, by hand or by automation. Plastic is just earth, with power it can be completely torn down. It's even amazing like water in the right processing (e.g. separated) could be near infinitely made and remade like water does back and forth with clouds, water, and ice.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

The sad effect of wasting plastic into the environment is that it harms us principally, and every other living creature on this planet. The planet itself will survive complete with its coating of plastic. Those of us living on it will not - at least, most of us. Other creatures will evolve.

My thoughts around this problem is to create responsible plastic products that are clear of their reusable and recyclable nature. Once the cost of materials; customer demand; or legislation come into alignment with what manufacturers are prepared to pay, then the switch to compostable or biodegradable will be relatively pain free. Without this alignment nor this responsible usage, plastics will continue to pollute our environment. :/

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

"for me without capital investment to cover tooling costs and initial material and distribution costs"
I'd suggest trying a pilot round with local cafes, exploring the business model (e.g. user incentization, e.g. when is it more profitable for a business to use this approach in a discounted refill or initial purchase price over what they are currently doing.

For that you can use something like shapeways to do the printing for you (or something like a hub of 3d printers to produce a few hundred to actually test and refine it. I strongly would want that if I were you as it really sucks having 100K of anything with a flaw in it that annoys you or makes it impossible to use. In this model if I were a cafe, and saw how it made sense financially for happier customers and the world I'd be happy to chip in $1000 even if I thought it was 30% likely to work. But if you got enough of those people to chip in, you could offset your initial capital expenditure. As an added bonus here, offer to 3d print their logo and color, this is simple design work easy to farm out if you had the stl file in a format they can work with.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Cheers Troy Gardner - I currently use Shapeways for prototypes to refine the model, and have built up a few coffeeshop franchise owners to gauge feedback. The cup itself costs £67 to 3D print just one in food grade plastic and each cup takes slightly over 2 weeks to turnaround. I have also found an outfit, Protolabs, who will run small quantities once the mould has been made (£12K just for the mould). Dependent on the results of this challenge, next step will be to run a crowdfunding campaign.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

The last day for submissions. Good luck everyone. Let's all stay in touch.
Lynn Johnson ; Lauren Ito ; Steve ; Paul Sharp ; Alan Somerfield ; Troy Gardner ; Robin Godwyll ; Robert Smith ; and all the other amazing designers I've had the great opportunity to meet via this challenge.

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

Totally Matt!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

MUST WATCH! Inspiring art by Von Wong highlighting plastic pollution in our oceans: https://youtu.be/vdZ5AWaNQqc

Spam
Photo of Lynn Johnson
Team

Hi Matt,
I really like your design ideas, especially the fins around the cup to taking out the requirement for a sleeve to keep hands cool. I hope I can persuade you to re-think that reusables are the future, with finite resources of fossil fuels some experts say that oil could run out in 20 to 50 years time, the simple fact is that it will run out eventually, which is why I think it's time to make those changes sooner rather than later.
Would be great to discuss your design ideas.
Regards, Lynn

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hey Lynn,

Many thanks for the challenge.

I really do understand and support reusable as as a key goal. Mantra - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and in that order). If compostable plastics were able to contain the heat of hot drinks, then that would be my preference for these cups. I'm eager to learn about possible candidates - with consideration to the cost. It has to compete with the cost of paper cups, plastic lids and cardboard sleeves for coffee shop owners to switch.

The only way we're going to make change stick, is by making it a gradual change. Let's get people away from the non-recyclable cups of today to fully-recyclable ones - Cuppuccino cups. Promote reusability but without the guilt of investing and forgetting a cup-for-life - Cuppuccino cups. And then those that can make the change, a cup-for-life - A future Cuppuccino cup project ;)

Here's the hope:

1. Coffee shops see that the cost of Cuppuccino cups are comparable to the cups, lids and sleeves they currently use.

2. Consumers adopt Cuppuccino cups as a preference, encouraging more coffee shops to follow suit.

3. At a minimum, consumers recognise that the cup is completely plastic and throw it into a plastic recycling bin - or at least, the cup makes it easier to be sorted and disposed of for recycling (compared to today). Recalling the goal is to resolve the small waste plastic items that are much harder to recycle.

4. As an ideal, consumers recognise that the cup is reusable, and returns with their cup for refills throughout the day and or week - yet removing the guilt if they forget it. Reverting to point hope #3 for any cups no longer wanted. This also gives the consumer a reusable cup option that doesn't cost them anything.

5. And the holy grail - consumers have realised that they can remember their cup each time and feel compelled to invest in a cup-for-life. Perhaps a second line of Cuppuccino cups - permanently reusable (and yet still recyclable).

How does that resonate with you? Does this sound pragmatic or defeatist?

I hope to continue the debate with you.

Best wishes,
Matt

Spam
Photo of Lynn Johnson
Team

Hi Matt,
Congratulations on becoming today’s featured contribution.
Your idea is a great interim solution to help combat unrecyclable coffee cup lids and straws and I agree that it will take time to persuade people that reusable cups made from renewable materials are the best option. This change is already starting to happen with around 5% of reusable cups used for takeout coffee.
A levy on disposable cups would speed up this change as demonstrated by the 5 pence charge on plastic carrier bags introduced in the UK in October 2015. More than 7bn bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500m in the first six months after the charge was introduced, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). That’s a staggering 85% reduction.
A reuse rental system for cups rather than a cup for life, with convenient drop off points would take away the necessity to remember to carry a cup at all times, users would maintain the same behaviour as they do in the current disposable system.
A challenge for Cuppuccino would be to change the mind set of consumers to ensure that all cups are placed in recycle bins after use, as they could still end up in our oceans or landfill. An affective marketing drive would help to drive this change.
Wishing you every success in this challenge.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Thanks Lynn - very chuffed to have made the cut.

I agree that change can be enforced, such as with the carrier bag tax. If I would most definitely support such a scheme. Although, have you ever counted how many 'bags-for-life' you now own? I'm eager to see if the tax is pushing the problem further down the line. Will we one day see landfills topped with heavy duty polythene and jute bags?

BBC and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reported last year that we go through 10,000 non-recyclable coffee cups every 2 MINUTES!! 2.5 Billion per year. Bags are somewhat more convenient to carry around in your car, and are less required that a 3 cup a day coffee habit needing a cup-for-life.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36882799

If we could turn those 2.5 Billion into reusable, recyclable coffee cups. We've changed the game entirely. Now to change the habit. We can do that with Cuppuccino - people begin to learn their reusable habits - when and where they forget or remember their cups. There is no penalty for them to forget. If they start mounting up, they can throw them away without guilt (providing they follow the instruction on the lid to recycle). I see people who understand when and where they can reuse vs recycle, then the change that you and I both want will begin to happen - faster, and with/without a tax.

Part of the aim is also to encourage coffee-shops to treat Cuppuccino cups as part of their reuse schemes. Discounting drinks when reusing your cup. Offering to recycle older ones, and up-selling to more permanent reusable solutions.

Perhaps we should team up - I'd certainly enjoy working on this challenge with a partner in crime ;)

Spam
Photo of Lynn Johnson
Team

Hi Matt,
I'd be delighted to team up , there's a lot of synergy between our ideas and with your flair for design and my sales experience and contacts we could make a great team! :)
Without doubt Cuppuccino could bridge the gap between the linear and circular approach to Coffee to go and I would imagine there would always be a requirement for disposables (unless utopia does exist!)
You can contact me through my website, www.eco-to-go.co.uk. I'm based in Nottingham and travel around the UK with work, as you also live in the UK we could meet up for a Cuppuccino and hatch out a plan!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Love it. Will connect with you and see where things take us. And your choice of drink is most admirable, I'll have mine in an Eco-to-go cup ;)

Have an awesome afternoon. Great debating such an important topic with you.

Best wishes,
Matt

Spam
Photo of Lynn Johnson
Team

Excellent, looking forward to hearing more about your ideas.
Kind regards, Lynn

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Great to see this connection! Thanks to Lynn Johnson for sharing her insights, and looking forward to this future collaboration!

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

I've found this challenge to be ideal for bringing together like-minded people. Lynn Johnson ; Tetsuko ; Svetlana Shalayko ; Robert Smith are all great contacts where I hope we can help one another going forward. Thanks Lauren Ito for helping bring us all together.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Starting to recruit chain outlets who are up for engaging in a trial - both in the UK and the US. I still have some work to do getting the right plastics (I'm finding I get 1 step forward and 2 steps back). Getting good advice and support. Still flabbergasted by the tooling price. One to overcome.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Lucky to find a manufacturer of biodegradable, heat resistant (up to 200*C), recyclable plastics. Currently adapting the design with minor tweaks to support injection moulding, obtaining quotes, exploring finance options and engaging with food retail contacts to support a proof-of-concept trial.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Tooling prices back - ouch! £12.5K just for the moulds. I think I will need to win this challenge twice over just to be able to produce a prototype run. Any suggestions / recommendations?

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Note to self and anyone following my submission. I believe I've found a wonder material that would enable Cuppuccino (and similar projects) to hit the holy grail of being not only plastic, but compostable, despite the demand high temperatures bring on biodegradable plastics and the need for the container to be both flexible and thin walled (primarily for per-unit cost saving).

From the University of Minnesota, USA: Heat-Resistant Thermoplastic Made From Renewable, Biodegradable and Eco-Friendly Polymer PLA. It appears this miracle plastic can withstand temperatures of up to 110°C (Hottest most (and the best) coffee is served is ~88°C). Here's a link to the tech:
http://license.umn.edu/technologies/z08149_heat-resistant-thermoplastic-made-from-renewable-biodegradable-and-eco-friendly-polymer-pla

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Alas - I got a reply and still nobody has taken out a commercial license for this tech. Shocking really. It's been available for a couple of years. Need someone with deep pockets (a Starbucks perhaps) to buy into it and use the Cuppuccino design for all their cups ;)

Spam
Photo of Steve
Team

Hi Matt,
Do you know anyone who is able to make a prototype of this?
Steve

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Steve,

Yes. I have my own 3D printer (Robox) for less precise concept models, but this one requires outsourcing. I tend to use Shapeways. A little pricey, but relatively short turnaround times and excellent quality. For example, this cup has cost me £70 to print one! And it is very likely that I'll have to go through some refinements before I land on the model that can be most easily reproduced.

For a trial run, I can then turn to Protolabs. The most expensive part of the whole deal is machining the moulds. This is where I believe this challenge, should I be so lucky to be successful, will help immensely. I will be looking at anywhere up to ~£10K to get a reasonable amount made for trial.

I have a couple of contacts in the food industry where I think, with a bit of work, I can get a good high-street brand to help in the trial. All in good time. Baby steps.

Here are the URLs for Shapeways and Protolabs:
https://www.shapeways.com (low prototype qty)
https://www.protolabs.co.uk (low production qty)

I hope that helps!
Best wishes,
Matt

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Congratulations on being today's featured contribution!

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Yay! That is an awesome honour! Thank you :)

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Very well presented idea Matt.
Though I can't help but feel this introduces an unnecessary step towards reusable systems.

With your brilliant mind and communication skills I think you could develop a system and campaign to make "cups for life" mainstream without this interim step.

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Thanks Paul. That's a great challenge.

I do fear that anything-for-life adds a lot of pressure to the consumer who is seeking that convenience of the throwaway society. Not that x-for-life isn't a good idea. It is. Only that it demands change over nudging people towards it.

How many bags-for-life can one person own? Although I suppose the trick of the bag-for-life is that you feel compelled to store them rather than use them as rubbish bags / throw them away. The plastic hasn't gone away. It has got stronger and now resides in your cupboard waiting to overspill.

I'd add that those that are already bought into cup-for-life schemes are well catered.

In short - how can we invoke change without demanding it? If someone finds that they are able to use a temporarily reusable cup for long periods of time... perhaps they'll upgrade to a cup-for-life. Maybe they'll simply use less of this (or other) temporarily reusable cups by reusing them throughout the day, a few days or even a week. What is really important, is that they recognise that the product is plastic and can be recycled by placing it in the plastic recycling bin. All of which are small improvements that have huge positive environmental consequences - do you not agree?

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I understand what you're saying.
Perhaps a returnable reusable take out cup is an alternative solution, then the customer doesn't have to use it for life or own it, but when it is returned for the deposit it can be washed and used again.
I heard of a group in Hamburg, Germany trying this approach, it may be intersting to see how they are going.
https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.citylab.com/amp/article/507542/

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Great article. Thanks for sharing Paul!

320,000 cups per hour!!! That's in Germany alone. Crazy numbers.

A great initiative by Hamburg - I really hope it catches on. I hasten to add that it does create the same cup-for-life paradox, where the consumer pays an extra Ôé¼1.50 - creating value, which customers are going to be pained by each time they forget it and either buy another one, time and time again (a la bag-for-life), or give up buying the more expensive cup in lieu of a cheaper less recyclable one.

I certainly get where we (you, me and all of us) want the industry to go - but I cannot see 320,000 cups per hour going the cup-for-life route UNLESS it becomes law - such as the 'bag for life' in the UK. I'm hoping the Cuppuccino concept provides a good bridge - where it may even be possible to source a biodegradable and flexible plastic; with some reusability; even promoting the cup-for-life discounts when reused; at the same cost as disposable cups today. Lots of wins for the environment.

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Thanks for contributing this idea to the challenge, Matt! Thrilled to see someone with your design experience participating. I also wanted to tag in the Eco to go post from the research phase, which addresses reusable alternatives to coffee cups, for additional information--or maybe a future collaboration!

How do you envision this idea bringing value to both consumers and businesses? Can you describe how the implementation of this idea would require a shift in consumer behavior or consumer mindset?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Hi Lauren,

Thank you. I appreciate the feedback and will look into Eco to go.

My premise for this idea is that we should learn to work with packaging and plastics in particular in a much better and healthier way, rather than trying to force change. In this case, how can the industry make better cups that make for easier recycling, rather than force businesses and consumers to change their need for such cups?

Businesses will enjoy the ease of being able to store inexpensive cups to serve their beverages, and consumers enjoy the ability to buy drinks without having to concern themselves with what to do with the receptacle once the drink is finished. To change this their needs to be far greater change than what both parties will see as a small fraction of the whole transaction. A change in laws perhaps. Or a change in beverage trends that demands a different receptacle.

The idea then, not changing the business or the consumer appetite is to manufacture a better cup. One that integrates the three key components that are associated with takeaway coffee and its culture. Businesses still use the same amount of space (if not slightly less) to store the cups as they do now. They serve the same purpose. And based on supply chains alone, and the use of a single plastic unit, the costs should be comparable if not cheaper.

For consumers, I suspect initially, the cups will be seen as novel. Yet, with time, they will no doubt become ubiquitous and irrelevant to much thought as today's cups are given. They keep your drink in the same shapes container, same branding, no need for additional sleeves, top can be opened/closed, preventing spills, it can accomodate a straw... All the usual in a much simplified format.

The different will be in throwing them away.

First, this is a reusable cup. Not a cup-for-life, that needs remembering, proper cleaning, and is seen as valuable. Cups are to have stamped upon them 'Reusable. Returnable. Recyclable.' Encouraging people to take them back to where they made the purchase. A boon for businesses looking to embrace repeat business. (It is my view that this cup should be treated the same as a cup for life and warrant the customer a discount on their additional drink spend).

Secondly it is plastic. Plastic recycling bins are more common place. There's no multiple parts suggesting it is mixed recycling or general waste. If you are throwing it away, it has an increased likelihood to be thrown in the plastic waste.

Thirdly, it is one part. One continuous piece of the same recyclable plastic, meaning it is easier to recycle. With clear identifiers stamped into the plastic that it is recyclable and the plastic of choice. With no smaller pieces becoming detached and ending up being disposed.

There is no change to the business or consumer mindset EXCEPT, it makes it easier to throw away this cup in to the right bin; and both parties can take away a feeling that they're doing the right thing. And that's the trick. The change doesn't look like a change to either of them, but to environment it is a huge change.

Thereafter it is up to law makers or beverage trend setters to adopt a different beverage that avoids the appetite for such receptacles in the first place. This is beyond the reach of what I feel I can offer today. Maybe in the future.

At least that is the premise - my hypothesis based on observations and an understanding of how people adopt change. Now to get prototypes made and to validate my hypothesis with coffee shop owners, their employees and their customers. To do that takes time, access to resources and inevitably money. That's why I've entered ;)

I look forward to continuing this debate, Lauren. What can you recommend? Is there a different way of looking at this that I may have yet to consider? Can you suggest people or businesses who can help me get towards a proof of concept within this industry I know little about?

Best wishes and thank you. I love thinking through challenges.

/Matt

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Hi Lauren,

I had a look at the Eco to go post and understand the rationale. Whilst I think it is worth any scheme that promotes reusability and recycling is worth doing, it remains incongruent with the trend. It asks for people to change - which we know is the hardest challenge. Change happens slowly / gradually. Unless it is met by quite a bold change - which often invokes people to resist.

I do really believe that we are to stop making plastic an enemy - it has too many uses, but to find ways to making it easier to do the right thing. Not that we should stop looking for more environmentally effective alternatives. A combination of both respect for plastic and compostable, easily recyclable plastics are better.

With the Cuppuccino concept - I have other packaging concepts based on the same principles. It is about understanding why solutions have become ubiquitous (space saving, cheap, practical, convenient, disposable, etc.) and making the smallest of changes to the product that will elicit the desired outcome by default, without changing why people use it. The same packaging, with all the same design benefits, but in one more easily recyclable unit. Designated for the plastic bins and not mixed recycling / general waste.

I'm really eager to hear your (and fellow innovators) take on the design principle I'm working to.

I'm also eager to hear from anyone who can suggest a compostable alternative to plastic that can be injection moulded, has flexibility to aid the hinge mechanisms, can cope with hot and/or cold drinks, and withstand repeated use (for at least a week or more). With that, the coffee culture can continue and regardless of the few that do not dispose of the cup correctly, they are not causing any lasting harm to the environment other than perhaps somewhat unsightly.

All the best,
/Matt

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Hi Matt,
This is an excellent idea, and very well presented.
I see that you have taken a copyright. How does that system work?
Thanks
Steve

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Hi Steve,

Thank you. You are very kind.

Copyrighting my work is a force of habit for me. I produce a lot of illustrations and texts in my day job and for my hobbies. Copyright and including 'all rights reserved', ensures that your work is not passed on as someone elses. It protects the words, illustrations, designs - but not the product itself. Unlike patents - which unfortunately, by publicising the process within an open forum like OpenIdeo, there is no way I can patent this product. For patents, your work has to be registered before any aspect of it is made public.

There is also no registry for works that have a copyright. It is a common law practice that protects everyone on their initial creations, yet with the (c) Copyright symbol and author/illustrator/designer's details, the work can be traced back to its original, and becomes proof that it was in fact yours in the first place.

Find out more at:
https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/copyright

I hope that helps.
Best wishes,
Matt

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Hi Matt,

Nice contribution! I like the way you've managed to include all the desirable design requirements into one piece. It looks like an injection moulding the way you have rendered it which would probably increase the general wall thickness and mass of material used. If it could be vacuum formed then you could use much less material.

It will also be interested to hear what the barista's think of it!

Thanks, Alan

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Thanks Alan!

I think injection moulding (which is what I had in mind) would have the cleanest and most durable result. I do wish for it to be considered reusable, if only temporarily. Vacuum forming concerns me in how thin some of the walls might end up. The fins need to hold back the heat from hot drinks. The shape needs to hold and the lid needs to be able to clip closed. What do you think?

I too cannot wait to get this in front of baristas and fellow coffee drinkers. Anyone who has advice on how I can get to this point without going bankrupt... I'm all ears :)