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Nothing special until you add air! Mono-material, recyclable cup of the future.

Photo of Irina Ankudinova
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Idea Title

FutoCup Nothing special until you add air!

Idea Summary

FutoCup is an inflatable cup. The air trapped between film layers serves as a structure and thermal protection. FutoCup is designed for recyclabilty: it is mono-material one piece cup.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Green Rhino

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

FC's unique design utilizes air to provide structural stability and thermal isolation. Polymer film and new materials can be used for the cup application. FutoCup is a new, fun experience.

FutoCup is a double layered mono material flexible cup. There is a space in between layers. Layers attached to each other airtight creating a structure similar to bubble wrap or wine wrapping and the valve placed in the outer layer. 

Set of FutoCups arrives at store flat - resembling the look of plastic bags. Before use cup inflated through the valve by a barista with an automatic pump. The connections between film layers designed to give cup structure when inflated and also protect the consumer from direct contact with the hot/cold beverage, keeping the temperature inside optimal for drinking. Beverage is sipped from the flask from the small mouthpiece mimicking the straw or coffee cup lid. When drink is finished, Futocup is deflated either by the consumer or naturally.  

Futocup is recyclable if the system for plastic film recycling exists:

 1) It is monomaterial ( for example PE - widely recyclable valued film with ready secondary market) 

2) It is one piece instead of a cup and a lid 

3) It can encourage people to recycle. Thanks to a small volume when deflated customer can bring their used Futocups back and receive discount for recycling a certain amount in store. 

Futocup is simple and cheap to produce. Various materials and modified existing technology can be used. FutoCup's design significantly reduces material use and transportation cost.

FutoCup is a great opportunity for design and brand differentiation. It is transported flat so a variety of shapes can be designed: from mimicking current solution to squared or even spherical/cone shape for the festive season editions(Christmas, Pumpkin for Halloween). The inflatable design also provides new sensory experience for customers. 

FutoFlask, FutoCup designed for reuse, can be sold by brands to encourage hassle-free reuse, as it takes little space.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Hot Cup Only
  • Cold Cup Only
  • Cup Lids
  • Straws
  • Cup Sleeve
  • Cup Liner
  • All of the Above
  • Reusable System

How is your concept recoverable?

1) Recyclable: FutoCup made out of recyclable film can be recycled through existing film recycling system. For example, PE is a widely recyclable film with an established secondary market. Film recycling will be more common in the future according to CEFLEX. Futocup is 1.Monomaterial 2.One piece instead of a cup and lid 3.Can be printed with a barcode for the discount schemes encouraging recycling. 2)Compostable: use of compostable film will make FutoCup compostable 3) Reusable: Thicker layers and design for reuse will create reusable Futoflask what can be sold as a merchandise. Additionally: 4) Easy to carry to recycling/composting bin what helps to prevent littering. 5) Cheaper to transport to a recycling facility. Bins can be serviced less frequently 6) Can include up to 50% of recycled content: the outer layer not in contact with the food 7) *Can be recovered by magnet if made out of NovaFilm - our collaboration with Altais Nova (See Team)

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

The solution significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with cup transport to the consumer and back to recycling by taking little space while deflated and being lightweight. 1 small van can deliver a year demand of cups for a medium size cafe. PE is the first choice for the prototype manufacturing and PE can be currently synthesized from the renewable stock if required. FutoCup design allows exploring various renewable/compostable films and finding best material/design combination.

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

We will pilot our PE FutoCup in Europe and USA, in the areas with established film recycling infrastructure and demand. We will then expand to the compostable film FutoCup and trial it in the closed systems (such as university campuses) with existing food waste collection system. Further we would like to introduce reusable FutoCups to the regions without existing recycling/composting facilities. We would like to do our first trial with Consortium Partners in USA.

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

Global disposable cups market is projected to reach at a valuation about USD 20.5 Billion by the end of 2024. We are initially targeting markets with existing recycling/composting infrastructure and markets ready for reuse FutoCup. We used user experience map while developing our solution. FutoCup benefit for customers: FutoCup matches the convenience of the fiber cup and excels it FutoCup has better thermal isolation, keeps drink at the optimal temperature for longer, and helps to avoid burns New sensory and visual experience Less spillage, even if dropped Takes little space and easier to carry to correct recycling/composting point for earth-friendly disposal All ability design

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

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

Developing MVP: Work with designers to collect and incorporate user’s feedback into FutoCup Design Work with all supply chain from producers to retailers, consumers to recyclers to make sure FutoCup design reflects requirements of all stakeholders, including Earth. Work with material scientist and manufacturing expert to confirm the best design/material combination for the FutoCup Work with Regulatory Bodies to make sure all processes comply with current regulation such as Food Contact Regulation, Recycling Certification etc. Work with LCA specialist to confirm FutoCup superiority compare to current options and found the ways to improve it further. Work with Closed Loop Partners to run a week pilot at the partner's settings Work with IP specialist to protect FutoCup design further

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Sustainability and Recoverability
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping

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

Green Rhino is an international team working on the circular economy solutions. We are the team of Waste Professional, Product Designer, Researcher and Science Communicator, and Logistics, Environmental Chemistry and Education Professional.

In what city are you located?

Cambridge, Stockholm, Falmouth (MA), Malaga

In what country are you located?


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

Sole Proprietor with other team members working as consultants and collaborators at the moment.

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

We think our FutoCup is fantastic. But we need help to make it even better. Our goal is to run a week FutoCup Trial at the Consortium Partners's store. Becoming Top Idea will give us an opportunity to work with all cup life cycle players to develop the current prototype into truly circular FutoCup Design. Funding: - Regulation Compliance and Certification: Food Contact, Recyclability, LCA - Product Design - Manufacturing first FutoCup batch for the trial - Business Strategy&Marketing

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email
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Team (5)

Irina's profile
Olga's profile
Olga Kharchenko

Role added on team:

"Olga, Falmouth, MA, is a Research Scientist and Science Communicator (Design and Illustration). With her background in Environmental Science, Olga makes sure that FutoCup big vision is clearly communicated to the audience through visual tools."

David Jose's profile
David Jose Espinosa

Role added on team:

"David, Malaga, is a Founder of Altais Nova, R&D Circular Economy Firm, we are collaborating to explore possible application of Nova Film Technology for magnetically recoverable FutoCup"

Julia's profile
Julia Kuzminova

Role added on team:

"Julia, Stockholm. With valuable experience in Logistics, Environmental Chemistry, and Education, Julia helps FutoCup to develop a strategy that responds to real-world challenges."

Anna's profile
Anna Cappai

Role added on team:

"Anna, Cambridge,UK. Anna is passionate Product Designer for Circular Economy and Excellent Communicator."

Attachments (1)


Futocup Design, Lifecycle and Performance Overview


Join the conversation:

Photo of Koldun Victor

An ordinary cardboard cup breaks down in the natural environment roughly in a year or thereabout. Approximately how the fallen leaves does, consisting of the same cellulose. In order for the new material for the production of cups to become a cost effective replacement of cardboard, it should decompose order faster, somewhere in a month, maybe two or three. This is at an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (according to NASA). But when we pour water near a boiling point, at a temperature of 95 degrees, into such cup , according to the rule of Svante August Arrhenius, all the chemical processes in it, including the self-decay of complex molecules, respectively, accelerate. The minimum acceleration will be somewhere 250 times, and the maximum will be about 65,000 times. That is, for a disposable cup that has been filled for at least an hour, and this is a real situation somewhere on a picnic, there is all the chances to pour out their content on the table at best , at worst, on himself or his electronic devices. Even if this cup was made a few days before that and was stored in a stock in perfect conditions.
Therefore, the question arises - how do you deal with such issue?

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