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Long-lasting, durable coffee lids

The system aims to encourage users to keep and reuse coffee lids without interrupting their daily habits.

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I began by thinking about how existing products could be used in a different way to simply achieve the goal. This inspired the idea of customers bringing their own coffee flasks to a coffee shop to be filled and reused. When researching this I came across places that had tried it, but didn't stick to it as there were too many hygiene concerns. Both for the barista handling the cups and also the machines used to make the coffee. Alternatively, a reusable flask could be provided to a customer at a higher price, and then exchanged for a cleaned one when returned. There are still some hygiene concerns here as it would be unknown how long the coffee flask was kept, and if it was used for something other than coffee in the meantime.

This lead me to consider the reuse of just one component, the lid. The following process allows for a simple solution which takes advantage of manufacturing processes already in place and could be implemented immediately. 

Proposed Redesign Process:

  • Firstly, the consumer would purchase a reusable coffee lid. This would be long-lasting and durable, and would be stored in a small carry-case.
  • They would take this to a coffee shop of their choosing, where they can purchase a professionally made coffee. This would be served in a paper cup, without a lid.
  • The consumer would then take their reusable lid and attach this to the coffee cup. This avoids any contact between the consumers items and the barista and their machines.
  • Once they have finished the coffee, the paper cup can be disposed, while the reusable lid is kept in the carry-case ready to be taken home and rinsed ready for the next use.

This process consider all parties involved and causes little disruption to current processes already in place.

 Company benefits:

  • Paper cups are a universal item, available in standard sizes. This would not need to change as the lid would be designed to work alongside them.
  • The recycling of paper cups can be improved over time as the lids would no longer be a concern.
  • Plastic lids would be replaced entirely with reusable lids and avoid becoming waste.
  • The lids would be easy to implement as they would follow the same design principles as reusable flask lids. Only the connecting feature would need to change.

Consumers could make their own coffee at home and use a reusable flask each day. However, this is not appealing to all people as coffee-lovers enjoy professionally made coffee. Others do not want to carry an empty flask with them after they have finished, and also, washing these cups afterwards is another chore. There are benefits to the proposed system that benefit these consumers.

Consumer benefits:

  • Consumers can enjoy professionally made coffee while also making a smaller impact on the environment.
  • Only the lid needs to be kept, which is much smaller, and can be kept in a bag discreetly. 
  • Multiple lids could be purchased and kept in the home as they are smaller. This allows consumers to continue with a 'grab-and-go' habit if they did not have time to wash one in preparation for the next day.

Idea Title

Keep that coffee cap.


Where are you / your team located?

Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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

The smaller a plastic part is, the harder it is to sort and recycle that item. Hence, caps and lids often end up as waste. By designing a long-lasting coffee lid that is designed to be reused again and again, one cap can replace the need for several single-use ones.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Case 3: Take-away coffee lids.

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

Paper coffee cups are available in standard sizes and the manufacture of these is already in place. This means a consumer could go to any coffee shop and attach their reusable lid to the paper cup. This could be potentially be implemented globally.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

This is a system which would require commitment from the consumer, therefore, motivation to take part would need to be provided. Without motivation, the idea would be scalable. This could be achieved by offering a 5p discount on coffee to customers who bring their own lids.

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 manufacturing of a reusable lid would not be a problem, however, I think the marketing of this idea and ensuring consumers are aware of the benefits that are possible by making this small change is the only way this idea would take off and make a difference. I think the program would be able to reach consumers and understand their needs from a system such as this.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

My final year university project revolved around sustainable packaging of another product. From doing the research in this area, I was inspired to generate solutions for other products, such as the take-away coffee lid.

Tell us about your work experience

I gained a strong interest in the area of sustainable packaging after doing a 12-month placement in Packaging Design at an FMCG company.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Anna!

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!

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