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Natural Means for Waste Clean-Up

Use of specific animals to consume used cellulose cups and related matter.

Photo of David Chester
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Idea Title


Idea Summary

The black goats of Syria and Israel have a viscous appetite for wood, paper, plant roots and related materials. They are being re-introduced in Israel to reduce fires and can be used to consume waste.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

private research

These breeds of black goats have an appetite and can digest paper, wood and presumably other similar materials even including some plastics like expanded polystyrene. I have witnessed them eating used cigarette boxes with their wrappers including the aluminum foils! A recent news item shows that they are being re-introduced in the Jerusalem hills to help reduce the low brush-wood and stop fire dangers from this. 

These goats are useful and produce milk, meat and hides. In exchange for this we can let them consume our cellulose cups and similar containers and single-use items. Goat farms should be developed where the used cellulose containers are presented to the goats, after:

 a) a campaign for the use of cellulose containers instead of other plastic cups etc., is launched and

 b) the used cups etc., are collected by the public for subsequent distribution to the goat farms. Financial rewards for this may be introduced to encourage this work of collection, where the quantities of cups can be counted (not weighed).

No high technology is needed for this means for significant reduction in both hot and cold liquid single-use cup containers. Of course somebody will look at how the digestive system of the goats is so special that it can manage to digest paper etc., and eventually a chemical plant for it will follow. But to begin to introduce this vital and effective means for many kinds of single-use cups, the black goats are a most promising answer.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Lids
  • Some of the Above
  • Other

How is your concept recoverable?

I don't know what existing recovery systems are in place. I suspect that the recovery systems already apply but the "consumption" of this waste product is too costly and complicated compared to this proposal using goat power.

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

The uses of the goats for milk production (which does not need sterilizing) and cheese-making are obvious. Their skins are useful for leather and their meat is delicious too.

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

To begin these goats are well adapted to the Mediterranean climate, however with selective breading and the possible introduction of other strains, it would be possible to apply this method for much more of where mankind lives on the surface of our planet.

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

The initial aim is to reduce the amount of pollution seen today. A heard of goats could be brought to a city where pollution is bad and after a few days these goats could go back to their farms having made a cleaner impact on the rubbish piles. People in the cities and workers on the farms will both be beneficiaries.

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?

Insufficient animals. There are only about 2000 goats in Israel today. However that number certainly will grow with careful breading and distribution of herds.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Sustainability and Recoverability
  • Waste and Infrastructure
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

I am a retired engineer with a strong interest in our social systems, about which I recently saw published my research as a new book.

In what city are you located?

Petach Tikva

In what country are you located?


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


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

There is not much development needed for this idea to work, but it will need support from local farming organizations and willing goat herders. As a top idea it will get more attention and financial aid, for a faster acceptance and initial trials. It is likely that it will appeal mostly to the previous traditional goat hearers which were Bedouin, many of whom live in the hot and arid condition in our Negev desert. So the organization of goat transportation is likely to be the hardest challenge,

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

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