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


Lamina is a fully recoverable pouch made from banana plant byproducts, providing this biomass a second life with its very production.

Photo of Adrienne Han
7 2

Written by

Idea Title

Idea Summary

Lamina is a fully recoverable pouch made from banana plant “waste”, giving a second life to this biomass: first as a container for hot and cold liquids, and then as fertilizer and livestock feed.

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

Lamina is a manifestation of the ethos of doing more with less. Our solution orbits around banana leaves and stems, biomass that is largely treated as agricultural waste on farms, and reverses their current dumpster destiny by giving them a new life as a vessel for hot and cold liquids.

Why the banana leaf?

More than 100 billion bananas are eaten each year. They're the second most consumed fruit in the world, cultivated and consumed en masse. However, they are also a single harvest plant where 80% of the total plant mass is not readily commercialized. Leaves and stems are discarded, even burned, to make room for the next crop.

Lamina is not only recoverable after it serves as a cup, but it also recovers biomass currently regarded as agricultural waste with its production.

Are these leaves fit for life as a cup?

The natural qualities of the banana leaf address the majority of our performance standards for cups. Banana leaves are:

  • large in surface area
  • flexible
  • waterproof
  • heat resistant

Their surface area allows them to accommodate the range of beverage sizes we are designing for.
Their flexibility allows the Lamina to pack flat for ease of transportation and storage. 

Finally, their waterproof and heat resistant features allows them to adapt to a range of beverage temperatures.

Ok, so how do these leaves come together in the Lamina?

Lamina arrives at the place of service flat, and easily transforms into a volumetric shape when it is ready to be filled. 

When flat, it is a single sheet, consisting of three layers: two layers of banana leaf for waterproofing and grip, and banana fiber sandwiched between for insulation and added heat resistance.

When volumetric, the three layers of the sheet create a dual paned, banana leaf cup, held together by a compostable clip on spout.

What did users think?

During user testing, we discovered that Lamina’s shape and material spurred:

  • nostalgia
  • delight
  • mindfulness in consumption

The organic, pouch shape of the Lamina reminded many users of drinks from their childhood. They were delighted by its whimsical, curved shape.

A number of users also noted that seeing the cup material in a less processed form served as a reminder of the raw goods used to produce the the everyday cup, and encouraged them to be mindful of their consumption habits.

In designing, we have purposely ensured the banana leaf retains all of its natural grain, to function as a gentle reminder that the things we as consumers use, are derived from materials from the earth. 

Recoverability is at the core of the Lamina, in material choice, but the secondary goal is minimizing the total number of cups that enter into the cycle of recovery through thoughtful design.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Straws
  • Cup Sleeve
  • Cup Liner

How is your concept recoverable?

Lamina is minimally processed, shining the light on the natural qualities of the banana leaf, and playing to its flexibility, waterproof features, and heat resistance. The Lamina does not require additional processing by way of wax, oils, or plastic liners, to hold liquids for extended periods of time. Thus, the recovery process is streamlined. Unlike the fiber cup's plastic liners, there is nothing to be stripped from the banana leaf. The Lamina is readily compostable and suitable for both fertilizer and animal feed. As fertilizer, the bio-fertilizer created by composted banana leaves and fibers is more economical than chemical fertilizers and animal manure. As feed, the fibrous banana leaves and stem can also be used to substitute hay. Direct substitution of banana byproducts for hay maintains both the weight and chemical composition of the animal.

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

Lamina maximizes on material recovery, with sustainability driving not only its next life, post cup, but its very production as well. This solution makes use of existing untapped biomass. It addresses sustainability further up in the supply chain, redefining an agricultural byproduct as a commercial raw material. Its production does not require any additional planting land, and the raw goods required can be fully derived from the current banana fruit plantations.

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

Lamina catalyzes two recovery cycles in its lifetime, both of which are compatible with existing global economies. 1) Lamina's production maximizes the yield of the banana crop, grown primarily in Asia, S. America, and Africa, and then imported into N. America and Europe. The Lamina turns agricultural waste into resources of commercial value. 2) After its use as a cup, the Lamina brings value to farms, indiscriminate of geo, as bio-fertilizer for crops and hay substitute for animal feed.

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

Lamina captures both substance and style in its design. It has the mass appeal and recognizability to serve as a reliable fiber-cup replacement for any beverage drinker, while maintaining a uniqueness that appeals to the more discerning consumer, who values design and visual appeal. Further, the minimally processed Lamina and its wood grain accentuates the relationship between the end user and the earth, serving as a gentle reminder to the user that a cup does not just appear in a factory, but rather, it comes from the planet we all share.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping
  • Piloting

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

Storage: Banana leaves have a long shelf life, but to maintain their maximum flexibility and become volumetric after being packed flat, they cannot be stored in too dry of an environment. Humidity levels need to accounted for in storage. Strategic agricultural relationships to maximize recovery: The Lamina's ability to serve as bio-fertilizer and animal feed after its use as a cup is unlocked at scale through partnering with the farming industry. Resources need to be dedicated to building these partnerships.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

Anya is an AutoCAD ace, and Adrienne, a branding buff. Anya has designed resorts and boutiques alike, and is gradating Spring '19 with a M.Arch from UPenn. Adrienne leads digital advertising at CBS, with background in brand strategy and e-commerce.

In what city are you located?

San Francisco, CA

In what country are you located?

United States

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gargi Bansal

Looking forward to seeing how you solve the storage problem for yourselves and potential customers.

View all comments