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cans for cups

Use recycled pop cans to create recyclable to go cups that customers can return for a 10 cent refund, same system we use now for pop cans.

Photo of heather kelly
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Idea Title

cans to cups

Idea Summary

Recycled cans would be transformed into to go cups that can be recycled for a refund. Companies that adopt the cans to cups system would receive a tax break. Customers would get the 10 cent refund.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Troy High School

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

Cans for cups is a new system for disposable cups. Recycled pop cans would be used to create aluminum to go cups that can be returned for a 10 cents at all aluminum recycling machines.

Cans to cups would use the equipment and process that we currently use to recycle pop cans. The recycled materials will be simply turned into a cup using a mold. The idea will use existing safety, health and performance standards that we have in place for recycling cans. A portion of all cans recycled will be dedicated to creating "to go" cups. Companies that participate in the program will receive a tax break for using this system. The customers will receive a 10 cent refund for recycling them. The idea would reduce the amount of waste from unrecycled to go cups & utilize a system and machines already in place.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Some of the Above
  • Reusable System
  • Alternative Delivery System
  • Other

How is your concept recoverable?

The cups to cans concept solves the recoverability problems with the to-go fiber cups by giving consumers and corporations an incentive to use and return them. All parties win with this system. The materials to make the cups come from recycled materials and are deposited and recycled again. Therefore the cups themselves are sustainable. The customer has an incentive to recycle them to get the refund. The company has the tax incentive to participate. This system would create a much more recoverable solution to the "to go" cup dilemma. I personally know that I would make an effort to save and recycle them if I were getting a refund.

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

The cans to cups system uses recycled pop cans to create the cups, lids and straws. The solution uses all recycled materials that can be recycled again after use. The idea is

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

North America

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

The customer, the companies using the cans to cups system and the environment will benefit from my solution. The customer will have a chance to earn money for recycling aluminum to go cups. The companies using the cans to cups system will get a tax break. The environment will be helped by reusing the aluminum from the cans for the cups.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

The existing gaps in my solution are machinery/ molds to create the cups from the recycled aluminum. How cups will be distributed and cost to company for each cup, which will be based on manufacturing costs.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Growth and Scaling
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I am currently an Innovation teacher at Troy High School in Michigan. I am dedicated to spreading design thinking and human centered 21st century learning experiences to school around the United States through my innovation consulting company.

In what city are you located?

Birmingham, Michigan

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Becoming a top idea, working with Consortium Partners and joining the post-Challenge business accelerator will help me make this idea a reality. I would utilize the funding provided to get the business started and possibly partner with existing recycling facilities to help make "to go" cups more recoverable. I would also work towards getting the government on board with offering tax breaks for businesses using the system.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email


Join the conversation:

Photo of geoffrey mosigisi

It's great idea but how will you erase those logos on the cans.? And also I am interested in knowing how you teach your students ,I have read some of their ideas. I wish also to know from you who like to take a cup of coffee always men or women in your country. Thanks

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