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Juice Ups

A redesign of the classic kid's juice box, this solution uses 100% biodegradable material and is lined with Mater-Bi®, a natural material.

Photo of Olivia Phelan
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The Opportunity:

Juice boxes are made for kids. So why does it take an adult to open one?

When looking at traditional juice box packaging, the primary issues all stem from the design of the straw, the way it’s provided and how it is inserted into the drink. Preparing such a juice box currently involves a tedious three-step process, each armed with its own set of trials and issues.

First, kids must detach the straw from the box. While this leg isn’t overly difficult, it can prove as one of the most pivotal, as quite often the straw is simply knocked off the box and lost at some point before consumption, leaving kids even more helpless to open the container, and more likely to create a mess.

The second step is to remove the straw from its plastic casing — a slightly more challenging task that can easily result in cracking the straw or pricking a finger.

Lastly, open-heart surgery…or at least a child’s equivalent to performing it. If a kid is fortunate enough to successfully make it through the first two steps, they must then take their flimsy crackled straw and stab it through a small resilient target of foil and polyethylene. The results of this labor vary but it nearly always involves wasted juice, either shooting out the top of the straw or erupting from the box’s opening as it punctures. Not to mention the waste of plastic and product.

Our Solution?

In redesigning Minute Maid’s juice box, we wanted to remedy each of these issues in a way that provided a fun, simple and independent experience for kids using less plastic and waste in un-recyclable material.

We started by creating a pre-attached accordion straw that is already submerged in the container, the top of which protrudes from a small well sitting in the top front portion of the box. The drinking end of the straw is ‘corked’ by a stopper attached to a foil peel that covers the entire well area.

To open the drink, kids simply peel away the TetraSeal foil cover, uncapping the accordion-style straw in the process. Kids can then extend the straw and adjust how they please for a comfortable, convenient sip. The point where the straw enters the box is also sealed to prevent any leaks or spills that might occur during transportation. 

Keeping the environment in mind, Juice Ups’ containers are 100% biodegradable, constructed from recycled cardboard lined with Mater-Bi®, a one of a kind polyethylene alternative produced entirely from plant matter.

Available in a variety of exciting fruit flavor combinations, Juice Ups give kids the freedom to enjoy a delicious drink right when they want it, without mess, tears or hassle.

Idea Title

Juice Ups

Company / Organization Name

This idea was generated by two designers, two art directors and a copywriter while we were students at The Portfolio Center.


Where are you / your team located?

New England // Boston, Massachusetts

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

This redesign eliminates the need for excess glue, plastic sleeves and straws that more times than not detach from the juice box, are wasted and lost out in the environment. The container is made from layered paper giving it the sturdiness, coated in Mater-Bi which solves for the otherwise used aluminum and polyethylene on old juice boxes. The Mater-Bi creates the liquid tight seal and acts as a 'spf' of sorts against heat and sunlight that might otherwise spoil the liquid.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Juice Ups applies to Case 2, Trevor and Benjamin. With Juice Ups, you don't have to worry about the seal as it stays attached to the container and can be disposed as one unit. Imagine going on a picnic where your kids can grab their favorite juice, pull up on the tab and straw and begin consuming? No fussing for daddy to stick the straw in her juice box only to have it squirt everywhere and leave shards of plastic straw wrapper lying around. Juice Ups is a great alternative in this situation.

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

Honestly, it sounds idealistic but we could see this package not only working in first world countries but in other countries as well where clean drinking fluids are scarce.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We initially tested our target audience, moms and kiddos. Starting there seems to make the most sense. This package could be scaled up first into juice boxes for kids, then into beverages for adults (think people in hospitals who have limited mobility or the like) and then into mainstream beverages. We understand how to pivot and be agile, but we need help with the scalability and business model of a large company like Unilever or Coca-Cola to become a full fledged company.

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.

Think Beyond Plastic would be the perfect catalyst to propel this idea forward. After the program success would be working with packaging engineers to make the idea a reality, refining and launching a product line through Coca-Cola Minute Maid as they were the company who tasked us with the original challenge and could assist in the funding of launching the product line.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This was a student collaboration for the 48HR Repack competition. There were 5 categories to choose from and we selected the Coca-Cola Minute Maid challenge. Joe Duffy of Duffy Designs had recently given a seminar about the branding refresh so we decided to focus on the function and footprint of the package. We ended up winning 2nd place in the country and were approached by several packaging engineers about making the idea come to life. Alas, finishing our portfolios took precedence.

Tell us about your work experience

I'm a designer with a background in psychology. I attended the Portfolio Center and have since worked in different arenas from ad agencies to small design firms to large marketing companies.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure


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

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

This innovation is merely a catalyst to a much larger dialogue for systems based design. If we want to change people's behaviors in consumption and waste we have to start small and reposition the conversation. It starts with a juice box package re-design but it leads to conscious consumptions in areas of our lives beyond packaging. In order to disrupt the current model we have to have a reason that is sound a better. Our natural and human capital is the beneficiary here.

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

Our package decomposes in it's entirety from natural materials, regular juice boxes do not. The material minimally impacts the value chain on one side because paper is already in use in so many products for beverages as it is. Where is is a larger impact is where the polyethylene is replaced with Mater-Bi. This will potentially cost more perhaps but once the plastic straws and cellophane are removed could possibly negate the higher price point for the liquid tight coating.

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.

If there is a price increase I think it is important to remember this isn't about justifying a more expensive package as it is about changing a behavior. It's like choosing to buy healthier food and take care of your body throughout your life rather than paying for it later. If we take care of our eco-system now we're ultimately taking care of ourselves for generations to come.

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. 

The user experience is pretty intuitive with JuiceUps. The area where the straw hides is located on the top of the box and the child simply peels back the seal similar to a re-usable sticker (think sticker book from childhood) they then either your their mouth or fingers to pull up the accordion style straw that sits in the well of the box, and drink. It's that simple.

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

If we're selected as a Top Idea, the first thing we'd want to do is start prototyping our container with Unilever and then product test it in the community, homes, schools and stores where it would ultimately live.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Agaba Peter

This rill good and I wish u luck

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Olivia Phelan !

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in LESS THAN 7 HOURS, I want to remind you that the following must be submitted by tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

1. Submit the Refinement Questions Form online that was sent again via email yesterday evening--we have not yet received this from you. These questions are mandatory for Top Ideas consideration, so this should be your first priority in the final stretch.

2. A secondary priority, which is optional, is to update your Refinement Phase post.

If you have any questions, please email

Looking forward to reviewing and celebrating the amazing work you've achieved this Refinement Phase!

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Olivia!

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.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Olivia!

I have got a few questions for you:

Is the TetraSeal foil cover a tear-off or does it stay on the juice box?

Would you confirm that all components of your packaging are compostable?

How would you communicate to customers that the packaging can be composted?

I look forward to seeing some testing of your prototype.

I know you are experienced in this area, but there are a few ideas that you might want to check out as a source of inspiration:

Friendly ATM - - a top idea from our financial longevity challenge has a great example of rapid, low budget prototyping and gathering feedback from customers. The use of video to demonstrate the prototyping/testing session is really good.

InLid - another idea in refinement - - 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 -

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.

Photo of Olivia Phelan

Hey Kate,

The seal stays attached to the container similar to a tab on an aluminum can.

All of the components of the package are compostable. That's what's so great about the Mater-Bi material.

I'm doing research on how to communicate the new package to the consumer so stay tuned on that!

Thanks so much for the resources, I will definitely check them out!

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Olivia!

It is great to see you in the challenge. What is the lifetime of this material - Mater-Bi®? What components are biodegradable, recyclable etc?

Photo of Olivia Phelan

Kate Rushton Three to five months to decompose. The entirety of the materials used in the container are biodegradable and recyclable. The carton or "box" is made from biodegradable paper that is coated with Mater-Bi®. This material is a polyethylene alternative that is made from vegetable oils, starches and cellulose. It's great because Mater-Bi's characteristics and properties are similar to traditional plastics but because they're a bioplastic they do biodegrade and recycle.