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Cupets: Eco loyalty app & campaign

We drive demand for compostables and reusables through partnership, behavioral science, and technology to realize a less wasteful world.

Photo of Amanda K. Lotz
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Idea Title

Cupets: Eco loyalty app & campaign

Idea Summary

We drive demand for compostables and reusables through partnership, behavioral science, and technology; we help consumers, merchants, and manufacturers realize a less wasteful world.

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

Cupets leverages technology, behavioral science, and partnerships to help drive demand for a more recoverable world.

Our initial concept includes a:
1) Consumer-friendly app leveraging behavioral science and gamification
2) Pilot program for recoverable cup usage with major food-service providers and retailers, including eco-tax to consumers
3) Comprehensive strategic marketing campaign

Taking a lean approach, where we can apply learnings for future iterations, we will launch our program and app in a pilot city.

We will help forge partnerships between a major producer of recoverable cups (i.e. World Centric or Eco-Products compostable cups) and a major food service retailer (i.e. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Yum!, and CocaCola). The select cup manufacturer and retailer will agree to a pilot program of gradually phasing in compostable cups as an option at retailers in addition to their regular cups at select retailer locations. At the point of sale, consumers will be empowered with a choice: compostable or non-compostable? The non-compostable cups will be taxed at a marginally higher rate than compostable. 

A comprehensive marketing campaign will be introduced on the physical compostable cups, in stores, and virtually via the Cupets app. 

What is the Cupets app? The Cupets app includes nudges inspired by behavioral science, gamification to make it fun, knowledge about environmental impact, and loyalty rewards. Consumers can check in with their app in store by opting for a compostable cup, scanning a QR code (only capable of being claimed once!), and earning points for Cupets. Cupets are a type of crypto-eco currency, which can be claimed as participating retailers who partner with the app. At the same time, consumers can collect different Cupets, like the one featured on our visual prototype.  

Retailers (i.e. McDonalds or Starbucks) may opt to include an item on their POS systems that will record consumer demand for compostables. In addition, Cupets will track and monitor consumer demand via the app. This data will help provide validation for more recoverable solutions, while raising awareness, positioning retailers as leaders in sustainability, and creating a more recoverable world.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup

How is your concept recoverable?

The existing to-go fiber cup is often not recoverable given that the plastic liners tend to be petroleum based and are not always fully recycled. This idea seeks to promote use of compostable and reusable cups. An eco-tax will be charged on non-compostable cups to consumers, encouraging the adoption of compostable cups. This can also help retailers recover any additional costs associated with the transfer to compostable cups. In addition, some cities may provide a monetary incentive (by way of reducing a percentage of recycling costs) for increased compostables vs. landfill waste.

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

Solution incorporates use of non-petroleum based liners and includes disincentives for use of non-recoverable solutions. As we recognize that compostable cups are not the only solution, nor the most environmentally conscious, some retailers will be able to provide a QR code for the app or incentive for consumers who bring their own reusable cup.

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

The first pilot city will be San Francisco, given existing demand for recoverable solutions and commercial composting facilities. Solutions in cities around the country and, later, the globe, may vary due to the unique nature of each culture and sophistication of composting facilities. We will seek to design localized solutions, based on direct insights from consumers, for each city’s pilot program. Buy-in from local leaders, such as city government, will help increase efficacy of the programs.

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

There is existing demand for recoverable products in the San Francisco market, which will be the first pilot city. Our target market customer, to start, is the consumer who knows that recycling and composting is better for the planet, but they may not always know what to do. They have good intentions, but it doesn’t always translate to practice. Consumers, retailers, and composting facilities will benefit. As the app and campaign develops, we are working with consumers to understand their needs. In addition, we will maintain an iterative dialogue with retailers and manufacturers. Finally, we will leverage best practices from behavioral economics research to drive desired consumer behavior.

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?

Market access

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling

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

We have backgrounds in social enterprise, technology start-ups, product strategy and marketing, and visual design.

In what city are you located?

San Francisco, CA

In what country are you located?


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

Becoming a Top Idea will help us grow from research and concept to pilot program. Joining the post-Challenge business accelerator will hopefully allow us to work closely with leading retailers and manufacturers to design and implement the pilot program with launch of our app. Success will be defined by agreement to launch a pilot program with a major retailer.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Amanda K. Lotz ,

Great to see you filling out your submission. I did want to make sure you knew your submission is currently in draft form. Was this your intention? Please click "publish" on your idea at the top of the page to submit your idea. The deadline is in a few hours, TODAY at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time!

Photo of Amanda K. Lotz

Yes, Lauren! Thanks! We are aware and will publish soon. :)

Photo of Lauren Ito