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Recycle One, Get One Free

My idea is going to increase recycling of cups.

Photo of Mikey Esuchanko
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Idea Title

Let's get brewing!

Idea Summary

Recycle cups using the same system as plastic bottles/cans, but instead of change, you get points, and after you get a certain amount of points, you can exchange them for a free drink/food item.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Troy High School

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

Somewhere on the cups, there will be a bar code. More on that later. In the grocery store(s), there would be a machine (along with bottles and cans). You put your cup(s) in just like it were a can or bottle, and the machine would scan it, determine the number of points you earned, the company the cup is from, and the condition of the cup. When you're finished, just press the button on the machine, and it will print your receipt showing how many points you earned. You can then use these points at any location that uses this system. If the cup is in bad condition, it will be sent to a factory to be recycled. If the cup is in good condition, the machine will scan the bar code on the cup, and sent back to a location for the franchise it came from. Once a cup has been scanned a certain number of times, it will be put with the cups that are in bad condition, and sent to a factory.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Some of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

My product is going to motivate people to recycle the to-go fiber cups because who doesn't love a free coffee. Also, since there are so few factories that can fully recycle these cups, the fiber cups put through the machine will go directly to those factories.

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

Solution uses similar, if not same material as the machines used to recycle bottles and cans.

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

I would like to start in the U.S., and just see where it goes from there.

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

The customers buying coffee will benefit because they can get free food/beverages after earning a certain amount of points.

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?

The biggest challenges I am facing are access to materials and general support. Existing gaps would probably be transporting the fiber cups to factories to get recycled.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Waste and Infrastructure

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

My name is Mikey, and I'm a senior at Troy High. I am taking an innovation class where we have done small design thinking challenges. Other than that, I have no background or experience in design thinking, and just innovation in general.

In what city are you located?


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.

Becoming a Top Idea, working with Consortium Partners, and joining the business accelerator will help accelerate my solution by putting me in a position where I can receive feedback to improve my idea along with the help/support to put my idea into action. I will use the funding for material to build the first machine, and perform tests to make sure it can scan the cups. My goal is to eliminate waste of to-go fiber cups. With my lack of experience, I don't really know what steps to take after.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Mikey Esuchanko ,

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? We recommend making your ideas public as soon as possible so our community can provide feedback and engage with your idea so you can continue editing the submission until the final deadline.

Please click "publish" on your idea at the top of the page!