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

Earthlid by Highwave

Earthlid is a silicone, leak-tight alternative lid to traditional polystyrene plastic coffee lids.

Photo of Gary Ross
1 0

Written by

Idea Title

Idea Summary

Earthlid is an innovative, leak-tight alternative lid to traditional polystyrene plastic coffee lids. Earthlid eliminates one plastic lid for every to go coffee you drink.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)

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

Earthlid was developed over the last three years to provide a sustainable and healthy solution to single use plastic coffee lids. It is made from European grade food safe silicone, a BPA free material derived from natural earth elements. Earthlid is a registered design in the European Union as well as bearing both design and mechanical patents in the US. 

Earthlid solves the worst part of our to-go coffee cup reality, the plastic lid. Most current lids are made from polystyrene which are not recyclable, and often end up in our oceans. Styrene is the base material of polystyrene lids which is known to be toxic at elevated temperatures. New polypropylene lids are an improvement from polystyrene as they are recyclable, but they are more expensive and still end up in our oceans.

As there is no absolute standard of cup rim size, the Earthlid was engineered to fit most of the current paper coffee cups on the market. The reusable lid easily fits on most 12-20 oz paper cups and 16 oz wax beverage cups. The rotating strap creates a leak tight seal function for transport. The ergonomic design creates an improved drinking experience. Earthlid also eliminates the need for a straw on a regular size cold cup. Earthlid’s design extends over the rim, which eliminates the disaster of a plastic lid popping off when bumped or knocked over. 

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Cup Lids
  • Straws

How is your concept recoverable?

Earthlid is created from recyclable silicone as an alternative to polystyrene plastic lids which are difficult to recycle. Acceptance to “bring your own lid” will lead to new options for recovery of fiber hot to-go cups or wax paper cold cups for recycling. Remove Earthlid when done and the cup can be dropped into a tube as part of any recycle or trash bin. The stacked cups can be compressed further and removed. This will yield many more cups per recycle pick up, save fuel and increase efficiency, and eliminate the cost of sorting. Having your cup “tubed” keeps it out of oceans and acts as a reminder to encourage people to bring your own lid and to recycle the cup.

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

Silicone is an inert BPA free material and is infinitely reusable and recyclable to go on biodegradable or reusable cups. The Highwave Earthlid is ethically sourced and produced with European food grade silicone with the LFGB standard. Highwave will donate 1% of its Earthlid sales to ocean cleanup.

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

We plan to target national and international areas with strong sustainability cultures, as plastic pollution is a global issue. We will accomplish this through both B2B and B2C sales, using distribution, social media advertising, influencer marketing. We will officially launch Earthlid on our website on November 19, 2018. Due to extreme differences in culture and economics, the introduction approach will be customized for each region, some including more of an educational approach.

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

The target audience for the Earthlid campaign includes 25-40 year old active individuals who are environmentally and health conscious. This solution provides a healthy alternative for this population. While Earthlid will resonate with this target audience, the solution will benefit a much wider audience as well. Because of the innovative quality of the product (i.e. leak tight strap and ergonomic design) this product will upgrade the drinking and transport of the coffee cup. The ability to make a paper cup act as a leak tight travel mug will make the product appeal to a larger audience. Earthlid will also benefit the store, as they will save money on single use plastic lids.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Full-scale roll-out

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

The biggest challenge we are currently facing is the need for a behavioral change in society. With Earthlid, individuals are responsible for bringing this product with them to the coffee shop. While this product will resonate with a niche audience, many people on this planet are not yet willing to sacrifice convenience for sustainability. Thus, the biggest challenge we are currently working through is creating a marketing plan that addresses and changes the behavior of individuals.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Growth and Scaling

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

Highwave established in 1983, when surfer and ocean scientist Gary Ross invented the first travel mug to end single use drinkware. Since then, Gary's family business has developed many original designs, with over 40 patents and several design awards.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Highwave is a privately held California corp and will be joining the 1% for the Planet in 2019.

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

The Earthlid creates a solution to single-use polystyrene lids. An important part of our marketing strategy is to educate the world on the negative consequences of single-use polystyrene lids. We strongly believe that becoming a Top Idea will help us to achieve this mission. With support of the partners and the funding for marketing efforts, we can more effectively inform individuals about this escalating problem and solution.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of asdf asdf

I think this is a great idea. May want to consider how people will store and clean these lids before and after they use them at a place like Starbucks, in order to keep them ready to use for the next drink.