OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

«CUP» Circularly Useful Products, a global collaboration platform for plastic free solutions.

CUP is an enabling network and label for knowledge sharing and co-creation to scale no waste services to local economies world wide.

Photo of Keith Riggs
7 4

Written by stands for Circularly Useful Products, a competence center and cooperative network working to help local entrepreneurs in communities across the globe, to reuse, reduce and recycle plastic in consumer markets. Our mission at CUP is to collect verified information of;  best practices, viable business models and the newest in materials and manufacturing data to accelerate the shift to circular packaging cycles and rapidly reduce single-use plastic waste. 

We believe in supporting a community approach to accelerate the circular economy, by engaging communities, business and drive a shift in popular mindset from the local level. We offer entrepreneurs and businesses in communities worldwide up-to-date information and support ranging from business modeling, operations and access to a global knowledge base to help them become part of the circular economy and let their businesses as well as their communities thrive. Additionally we will use the global network to promote the circular economy and inform public policy. 

We begin from our base in Bern, Switzerland, as a test bed for our concept within the context of street food or take-out. The city of Bern has required that all public city events to be deposit-based no-waste events. The five year project has verified that the re-use food and drink service packaging is economically viable in a closed loop system. We believe we can work from this model and influence the local community to reduce their own plastics use before we develop and test our service offer with other communities around the world.

If we take a step back and observe all the circular economic flows now, we begin to notice that human immigration flows and shifting economic drives are suggesting new ways to engage people globally. We see huge numbers of diaspora who are under or not employed. However we also see new HR models being piloted for accelerated training that onboard migrants and assist earlier integration while filling employment niches. Training some to become leaders for change working closely with their homeland people, perhaps at Impact Hubs, could help to bring no waste solutions engagement in developing countries. We are inspired by examples from the Ashoka Foundation. 

Idea Title

«CUP» - Circular Useful Products, a people to people networking platform for local businesses in global community.

Company / Organization Name

OpenIDEO Bern, Switzerland is an Impact Hub Bern "Tribe" and "Outpost" and working towards being an openIDEO Chapter.

Where are you / your team located?

We are a self-assembling team of independent design consultants at Impact Hub Bern, Switzerland

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

CUP would support local business and communities to adopt and integrate new business and use models with multi-use closed cycle packaging for their take-out and street food. Thereby eliminating the vast amount of single use trays, cups, and other utensils from ending in the landfill or otherwise in our environment.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This idea applies to use case 2: we focused user behaviours of conveyance packaging with foils or tear-offs/bottle caps at take-with food/drinks at event vendors. City events and music festival venues have been great places to test closed use systems and to influence mass behaviours in a social context. The "Grünetatze" system works here in Switzerland at large events to radically reduce waste and shift consumer behaviours.

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

We will build our service and brand with our competence partners here in Bern who have functioning and growing businesses and reach out to existing no waste "Challenge" participants and start-ups vendors in SF-CA, Africa and Indonasia.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We'll collaborate through Impact Hubs and CME ventures and current vendors in SF, CA, Cape Town and India for testing and local marketing fit, then cooperate with social entrepreneurs in communities worldwide. The brand stands for quality and regional engagement with biodegradable/recyclable materials and certified with the CUPS label. With the competence center and global member network combined coordinated support from governments we can pull .gov to act in concert to revive local soc.- eco.

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.

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

The support would allow us to develop and verify our competence center in collaboration with no waste sellers, experts and CME knowledge transfer partners. We look forward to learning from competence experts to engage with a european food packaging company to prototype to regional and cultural frameworks and work together for the shift to C2C. In Bern we are connected with Ernst-Jan M. van Hattum and Dr. phil. Evelyn Markoni, R+D fellow,

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

First we are inspire by this challenge platform as a engagement and co-learning space! second by: and for as an association or coop by we're also inspired by Bern, CH S.F.,CA Materials-product inspired us

Tell us about your work experience

Simone Hopf: Design Manager + facilitator Marten Helwig: ID + Design Strategy Florian Vecsey: ID +UX/UI Designer, founderDuotones Interactive + DesignFestival Bern Keith Riggs: ID +CDT facilitator

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

OpenIDEO Bern (Switzerland) is an Impact Hub Bern "tribe" A legal entity can be established by our Impact Hub consultants when necessary.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Daniel Grosso

Hi Keith,

This is interesting. I've often thought that circular economies need to be driven from the ground up and that solutions need to be catered to the communities they connect with. I'm local practitioner in Perth, Western Australia making reusable items available at events and takeaway coffee shops as well as facilitating a local reuse economy. I can definitely see value in joining such a network that you have proposed here. If your contribution took circular economies to developing countries and provided employment as well as reduced impact through resource use efficiency, then this is definitely something I would consider donating part of the proceeds that I generate by creating circular systems within Australia.

Photo of Keith Riggs

Hi Daniel Grosso, thanks for your support. We are glad to hat the concept makes sense and you find it actionable. The team noticed that there are already many good technical solutions, that corporate suppliers and supply chains tend to extract money from local economies and that therefore there is a gradual loss of social-cultural integrity,. We also see the trend to start on the street to help people engage to build their culture happens first with food events coupled with culture exchange and local pride. Job creation at the technical and local logistic value generation could shorten transportation ways and bring jobs back toward the home/local community. So that means that if one can shift dependent habits at the local AND rebuild local businesses for circularity there is the best chance for people to self organize, like this OpenIDEO platform and generate self sustaining local solutions. A major aspect is providing hubs to support the new stories, leaders? Social Entrepreneurs and connections to NGO and .gov support. Let's build together! Tell me how it works there. Looking forward to more contribution. Keith at OprnIDEO Bern

Photo of Daniel Grosso

I agree that those leaders who want to change the stories towards circularity need to be supported within an environment that allows them to face the challenges of changing the status quo. Here we have various organisations supporting social enterprise but I do feel that these can sometimes operate within their own silos. I think one improvement to be made in Perth could be if these hubs connected so that there is access to globally relevant information that can be actioned within a local context.

View all comments