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Swordplay2.0: a spread-as-a-service (SaaS) model for butter, knives and beyond

Reimagine the way we serve butter spreads by introducing a product-as-a-service model to completely eliminate the use of plastics

Photo of Darren Yeo

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There is a huge waste in the butter tear-off process. Butter has a single use in its package, and sometimes all it takes is a swipe of a knife to finish the butter. Small plastic formats are then thrown away without any way to recover the material. 

Rather than creating tear-offs, what if B2B Owner's had their spreads fully on their butter knives, like a sword and its sheath (capsule)? Within the capsule holds the food ingredient such as butter, hummus, jam and many other spreads available to people. The capsule is cleverly designed such that people may twist and scoop out the spread from within. The friendly form reminds users of an ice-cream stick, and once done, they can continue to use the knife for other purposes.

However, if we are to extend the idea to reimagine the delivery model, we can introduce a product as a service model, or in this case, spread as a service. This means that while B2B owners are paying only for the butter spread, they will not be paying for the cutleries. Instead, the cutleries goes back, and gets reused again after being washed and filled with the ingredients. This creates a closed loop without creating an additional burden on the environment since deliveries of butter are already happening. 

We target local suppliers, who prides themselves with quality food output. Because, at the end of the day, the whole culinary experience, including the quality of food, is what we are after for our end user's experience. It also helps the local guys scale their businesses together.

When done locally, circularity is achieved. Less carbon footprint is made due to tighter loops. Besides reusability of the cutleries, Camphor's partnership with business customers also helps control full product usage and recovery, such that we are able to make new capsules with the same materials. With the advancement of recycling and 3d printing, new life can be given to the capsules

SWORDPLAY will significantly reduce the plastic waste, and thus the impact on the environment. But more than that, it ensures that there is a closed loop for a range of context, from homes (think airbnb or just for personal consumption) to hotels to restaurants to airlines. Beyond the butter service, SWORDPLAY extends to other food ingredients, such as jam and hummus. Ultimately, a closed loop is created where the supplier avoids paying for additional material cost, and can impose a cheaper lease model to the B2B owners, where the suppliers can control the number of the materials that is used.

WHY 2.0

Having spoken to 3 chefs and 1 hotel manager, with a few cold emails lined up, I realized that the biggest insight is that while restaurant wishes to own the internal processes of washing and filling, they wish to do it on their terms with cost as the biggest driver. Given the scale of guest who requested for spreads, as well as the various options on how spreads could be prepared and served, there is no strong demand for a hotel or restaurant to switch to a greener approach. The chef and hotel also pride themselves in the way they handle food, both as hygiene and food quality, so preparing their own butter and portioning it out is what they do to prevent wastage and handle customer experience. The lesson learnt to see where other business opportunities could lie.

While my sense is to continue to speak more hotel owners and have the time and space to work on subsequent versions, I realized that the airline industry is way bigger in terms of scale, an appetite for innovation and underlying needs, though hygiene, food quality and cost remain the same. Hence, I have shifted my focus on airlines, but also to create a set of milestones that targets specific hotel and restaurant owners


The Big Idea 



Product Journey Map

User experience across stakeholder




USABILITY LOG: To document the whole refinement process 

30th August

Conducted user testing with former air stewardess over SWORDPLAY and its system, as well as to understand the airline industry better. Had insights on why bread is used as meals, the process of food served to consumers, and some considerations when designing SWORDPLAY for planes

29th August 2017

Conducted user testing with hotel manager and fine dining chef over SWORDPLAY and its system. Learnt about the washing and filling process, and hotel consideration when choosing a local producer or a particular food recipe. Also understood the material consideration around cutleries and its interaction with spreads, and the amount of pride a hotel would have in its food quality when it has a in house central kitchen

25th August 2017

Did a Quick and dirty prototyping that will be used for experimenting and feedback with an upcoming restaurant manager. After finishing the prototype, a few iteration popped up:

- What if there is a flat extrusion created so that the capsule can rest upright?

- Handle can be slightly slender

- Twisting the knife to dig out butter prompted a thread-like groove to grip butter out of the container

- what if we swap the head of the knife with other apparatus, like a toothpick, a brush, a longer capsule? The list goes on to the various configurations

22nd August 2017

UPDATE: SWORDPLAY knife CAD modelling done, user testing with hotel chef conducted

NEXT STEP: creating rough and ready prototype, user testing with students, restaurant managers and owners, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!

Sharing session and immersion trip with chefs in hotel kitchen

From left to right: plenty of recyclable plastics, but there isn't a formal system to collect and recycle plastics; chef Ming did think about coming with a dessert dish with a similar SWORDPLAY concept! Kitchen makes their own butter and spreads, but could be as base ingredients for pastry.

Feedback on prototype: beautiful, well design. liked the shape of the design, and has class/luxurious feel to it. Questions about the recyclability of the materials, though respondent might not fully understand the circular management. Respondents commented about the brittleness of glass. There are recycling bins in the back kitchen, but not much has been recycled due to the high possibilities of contamination from food leftovers. Not part of any SOP for kitchen as there is no machinery or complex food consideration, hence it is easy to be introduced operationally.

21st August 2017

UPDATE: Thorough investigation of the solution, working on a rough and ready prototype, done an interview with chef

NEXT STEP: More user testing, product development on the rest of the solutions, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!

Interviewed a pastry chef who have worked in a large chain hotel for more than 7 years. To him, spreads are important enough for them to see how they can recreate a new taste to build upon the existing spreads. Most chefs will buy pre-mixes that are off the shelf and may present it to their guests. VIPs are treated slightly differently; chefs will build spreads from scratch to serve them. He commented that tear-offs are highly favourable at the buffet. One observation he makes is the huge waste of tear-off, from partial eating to not eating it at all. "Waiters will not deliberately take spreads out. In the rush of things, they will just swoop all of the food away, even spreads that are not touched"

When commenting on the prototype, he claims that material and labour cost will come in the way of chain hotels. Labour is huge factor in Singapore, especially if there are additional sets of culteries that need to be washed. He did say that boutique and niche establishment might fare better. Umami is not what consumers are aware of, ultimately, it's the ingredients that makes the difference to the average consumer.

The chef also makes homemade jam and sweet onion churney, and aspires to start his own business one day. While cost of running is still one of his biggest concerns, he likes doing his craft, and will entrust a company to handle the relationship and distribution of his produce. "Yes, i would like to see this as a business someday."

Idea Title


Company / Organization Name is a startup with an eco conscious attitude to make our idea into a reality.

Where are you / your team located?


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

SWORDPLAY is repositioned as part of the culinary experience, whereby it becomes a reusable scabbard (capsule) for butter spreads. B2B owners can return the capsules for new sets for their customers. Suppliers in the meantime can resue the spreabbard by washing and filling it up with the food ingredient. A closed loop is created where the supplier avoids paying for additional material cost, and can impose a cheaper leasem model to the B2B owners.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Mainly Case 2 on tear-offs

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

Airbnb homes, Boutique hotels, Chain restaurants, Inflight catering services in Singapore or a similar country setup

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

SWORDPLAY will be made easy for early adopters who are hosts to AirbNb homes. It will also target boutique hotels and niche restaurant who values a circular business. Ultimately, the inflight catering services will benefit from the closed loop service it provides. SWORDPLAY will also extend to other spreads, such as jam and hummus. Obstacles will include an initial dip in sales and revenue loss, market access and lack of education, and managing complexity across all stakeholders

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.

It will give me the permission to have the time and space to work on this new idea. Continue to test feasibility and design of SWORDPLAY, emphasizing on hygiene and cost, that will keep the butter. The goal is also to find B2B partners to try SWORDPLAY and gather feedback. Work out the business model such that it is justifiable to use the product as a service model

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Came as an individual idea over the topic of butter tear-offs and airlines where the butter and knife seems to be separated, even though they ought to be as close as possible. Through a play of metaphors, a sword then came to mind. the "play" aspect came from Akbar, who saw the sword as an ice-cream stick, and it brought an emotional experience to the act of spreading and enjoyment

Tell us about your work experience

Began as an industrial design student, worked in a design consultancy, studied innovation, failed as a startup, now as an innovation facilitator running experiments. Thinking about what's next.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

As of now, the team is formed based on the passion for the challenge. We have a web domain, and Limited Liability Partnership is possible

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

As knives will be issued and returned on a daily basis, airlines will pay for only the spreads in the cutlery set and for the delivery fee. Revenue split can only be done with local suppliers for every bag issued to Camphor. Lastly, the knives and refillable bags can also be purchased by consumers, who can also benefit from the local supplier network, or do their own. Cost will mainly come from labour cost for washing and filling up the knife, transportation, and initial capital cost

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

If we look at a spread (product) as a service model, there is no need to create new plastic packaging as knives and its capsules are leased out and returned based on a closed loop system. Reusability will be the main focus, as even the plastic refillable bags can be used again. When wear and tear becomes evident in the above objects, the parts go through a material recovery process as aluminum parts and PP plastic bags are recyclable, and new replacements can be made from the same material

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

By working directly with local business owners, the sourcing and production model is significantly reduced as handcraft replaces factory production (rollers, machinery, electricity, maintenance). There will no longer be warehousing and distribution, given that SWORDPLAY can be managed within communities and regions, hence removing freight transportation and multiple destinations. Lastly, cutleries are regularly assessed through its reusing cycle, and any end-of-life products get recycled.

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.

In a competitive F&B environment where good restaurants thrive due to careful cost management, we have little choice but to match the cost of butter tub, with a possible 20% price markup for reputable local brands or through delivery fee. That being said, we will need to experiment if our clients are willing to give us a deposit amount, which covers the capital cost of the cutlery, and will be returned upon at the end of the lease, and to show that SWORDPLAY generate profits with customers

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. 

We want to give a unique experience to diners, so that they can remember their food in a pleasant and impactful way: When was the last time you enjoyed a spread so much that every last drop counts? Inspired by the icecream stick, SWORDPLAY is a knife and capsule set that attempts to evoke playful eating and tasting. Sealed as a lid for the spread, diners can shift the cork lid upwards and use it as the handle of the butter knife.

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

$10,000 will allow us to run experiments to bring the product to life, and gather attention from media and the public $100,000 will allow us to build a batch of products to bring our business to life


Join the conversation:

Photo of Marisa_A null

Hey Darren Yeo . This is soooo comprehensive. I do like how you've done so much work on it already and brought it to life with your models. It's also interesting how you've decided that the scale and impact is greater in the airline industry.
We also considered the same issues about Singapore - with labour and space directly affecting the overall feasibility and cost of our solution. Makes some elements really though here right!?

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Darren Yeo 

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in 8 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. I see you've already significantly updated your concept on the platform.. But please share any additional information, photos, and documentation of your progress throughout this Phase!

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

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

It is great to see you so engaged in the challenge.

I just want to highlight one of the user personas for this challenge -

Carmen - Hotel owner in Mexico City, Mexico

“I use these small butter tubs in my breakfast
buffet. They are very easy to handle and portion
out, and has led to my guests using less butter.
The guests waste butter anyway, and I’d have to
throw more away if I didn’t use the portion-sized
tubs. The problem is, the half-empty packages
end up everywhere in the restaurant, sometimes
guests throw them in the normal waste bin,
sometimes the into the compost bin. It’s a mess.
I’ve called the local recycler but they told me it
doesn’t matter where I put the tubs, they won’t be
recycled anyway.”

Please do send me an email if you have any questions.

Photo of Darren Yeo

Hi Kate Rushton , so i just experienced a major pivot after doing a few more user testing with chef and hotel owners. It turned out that I was addressing the wrong target persona and industry. I have now shifted to airlines, and there is a gold mine of opportunities with a similar idea/design. Would you know out of the 100 ideas that are in this stage, which are airline industry related? In the last ditch attempt, I'm hoping to collaborate with them and get some last minute feedback. I am also going to talk to Singapore Airline's stewardess about this to get her feedback too.

Appreciate the support you have given so far!

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

I will tag them below, just give me a few minutes to double check.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Flying Rice Sachets - Transforming rice farming waste into biodegradable packaging for the airline and hospitality industry

Photo of Kate Rushton

The Reusable travel utility kit for toiletries might have some involvement with the aviation industry.

Photo of Kate Rushton

I am also tagging a few people here who have links to the aviation industry and might be able to give you some feedback - Felix Maximiliano Obes @DeletedUser @DeletedUser 

Photo of Darren Yeo

Brillant! Thank you for the support. I will upload the updated images by today

Photo of Felix Maximiliano Obes

Thanks for including me Kate Rushton . I like that the concept is aiming for circularity, but I think it still needs work, but I can try to find some airline or catering contacts willing to validate the idea. Would you like me to reach out to the community?

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

I look forward to seeing how your idea develops.

How would this solution compare cost-wise to single-use butter pats? How would you keep the costs down considering the additional use of labour?

How could this scale or be adapted to other markets?

How would you ensure the integrity of the product e.g. temperature control in hot climates?

Are you able to share some more information about your team i.e. LinkedIn profiles etc.?

What key questions/assumptions do you have about your idea? How could you test a key question through prototyping your solution?

There are a few ideas from previous challenges that might give you a few ideas:

Replate (a nonprofit tech company that matches high quality surplus meals with communities in need) - - was a top idea in our food waste challenge. It has a nice video to show the journey of the food - and - - which could be used to gather feedback on the concept

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.

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 Kate Rushton

I am tagging some people who might be able to give some feedback on your idea Christel Tardif Aaron Finch @DeletedUser @DeletedUser Tony sheer Martin Lina 

Maybe you could send an email to one of these associations asking them if, after looking at your idea, they have any questions or feedback to share -

Photo of Darren Yeo

update of the challenge! welcome feedback!

Photo of Darren Yeo

Hi Kate Rushton , really appreciate your feedback and questions in this place. Allow me to attempt to answer some of the questions you have posed.

How would this solution compare cost-wise to single-use butter pats? How would you keep the costs down considering the additional use of labour?

Since its inception, the concept has expanded to include the filling station and refillable bags. Admittedly, the initial startup cost may be higher than single-use butter tear offs. However, there can be three responses to resolve the cost aspect. Firstly, restaurant and hotel owners will have the choice of not buying the full set. This means that they can buy the filling station without the knives and sheaths. Through interviews, it is understood that hotels would consider to use sauce plates for spreads as a substitute over the spread portions. Labour cost would thus be minimized for washing and filling. Secondly, there is a revenue story to the concept. With the shift to target local producers, there could be a price increase over curated spreads, which customers are willing to pay. Thirdly, the total cost of the Swordplay setup should be equivalent to the cost of butter portions purchased when the filling station fully depreciates in value. In other words, while the setup cost would be higher at the start, the cost of spreads should be lower as compared to the cost of spread portion in order to justify the switch to the new system.

How could this scale or be adapted to other markets?
The short term growth strategy would be to create a network of local partners and restaurants. Various spreads such as jam, honey, hummus and yogurt can be considered on top of butter. The next steps would then be expansion on two front: via spread producers, or with large restaurant or hotel groups.

How would you ensure the integrity of the product e.g. temperature control in hot climates?
Cooling unit might need to be installed in the filling station. In any case, butter portions do not have an advantage over this as they rely on external setup to regulate temperature. On a broader aspect, certifications and food safety standards may need to be applied. More tests around feasibility will need to be conducted. Lessons from local producers can be done to learn how to increase shelf life of their produces naturally and quality control.

Are you able to share some more information about your team i.e. LinkedIn profiles etc.?
Akbar and Anna both have an industrial design background, but have their own specialization. More details to follow.

What key questions/assumptions do you have about your idea? How could you test a key question through prototyping your solution?
- Restaurant Owners are willing to spend more money on locally produced spreads
- Diners will find satisfaction in using the knife and sheath
- Restaurants and hotels will want to own the filling station, knives and sheath
- Local producers value delivery services and restaurant networks

Photo of Darren Yeo

Hi Kate Rushton , is ideo affiliated to any of the associations? I can attempt to send an email, but I can imagine not getting any responses at all

Photo of Kate Rushton

Not that I am aware of. I am just thinking post-challenge what organizations might have the answers. With one week left, I would recommend focusing locally for feedback.

Photo of Darren Yeo

Hi Christel Tardif , appreciate if you can give some constructive feedback so that I can improve on the concept.
Otherwise, I have a quote that keeps me going:
"If you never want to be criticized, for goodness' sake don't do anything new" -Jeff Bezos

Hope a little difference can inspire you too :)

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

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 Darren Yeo

working hard at it..!

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

It is great to see all the prototyping you have been doing. It has been done is a very logical manner.

Is it possible to have different designs of the "spreabbard"? For example, if the current sword-like design does not fit with a hotel's branding, could a different version be possible.

What is the user's experience of the "spreabbard"? How much pressure needs to be applied when spreading and how does that impact the structure?

A few days before the end of this phase, I recommend that you look at all of the comments in the comments section of your idea. If there is some important information there I would move it to the main body of your idea. Then the judges can quickly see key important information about your idea.

Don't forget the refinement questions! The deadline to submit the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Darren Yeo

Hi guys.. need a little love on this post if you think this is a good idea. Welcome all kinds of feedbacks.

Next step: interview with a pastry chef, sketch form factor, organize trip to f&b trade fair

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Darren!

Are you part of the Singapore OpenIDEO Outpost? They also have an idea in refinement - Nationwide Integrated Reusable Containers System for food delivery and takeaway.