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Squash'ey (The ultra compressible cup)

An easy to use cup designed to shrink in volume during transport, storage and disposal

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Idea Title

Idea Summary

The cup is designed to reduce the volume occupied by the disposable cups in landfills by making it compressible after use.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Master of design - design research at NIFT, Mumbai

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

There has been a lot of research to find alternatives for non-degradable plastics and many recyclable materials are being used in the manufacture of disposable cups. But only 99.57% of the cups are recycled overall, the rest end up in landfills. This is due to the difficulties in the recycling and segregation processes. Disposable cups account for 3 million pounds of solid waste and 6000 tonnes of co2 being generated every year (as on 2016). 

The initiatives for recycling are being initiated only for the cups that are disposed at the food chain outlets, which accounts for 1-2% of the total cups. Thus most of the cup end up at landfills. The problem faced is that the current design even when crushed occupies a larger volume, which leads to more space consumption. This, in turn, leads to incineration of the solid wastes as the landfills get filled at a faster rate. When incinerated, these cups produce greenhouse gases. This problem was identified and we tried to provide a solution to the same.

The proposed cup, is compressible and thus occupies a lower volume when disposed in landfills. Also, it used bio-degradable materials (bagasse) which decomposed in 2-6 weeks. As the disposable cups are used mainly at food joints, the aspect of usability is also taken into consideration. The cups once stacked, can be easily pulled out one by one. The cups are held by a stopper which not only keeps the cup in place but also opens the cup from its compressed state when pulled out. Thus the cup is ready to use once pulled out of the stack.

Added to this the compressibility of the cup also is an added advantage in transport and storage costs. The cup sleeves are replaced by textured tissue paper, that prevents slipping of the cup and also acts as an insulator keeping the fingers away from the temperature of the liquid inside the cup. This tissue can carry the branding of the food joint and also be pulled off and used to wipe hands after the drink is done.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Sleeve
  • Other

How is your concept recoverable?

The cup will be made of bagasse that is obtained as a waste product from sugar cane processing industries. Also, they are bio-degradable which reduces the environmental impact of the disposable cup.

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

Options are also being considered for involving elements that enhance decomposition in the material of the cup. Thus when the cup is disposed of, it not only decomposes faster but also aids the decomposition of the other materials lying in the landfill. As the cup can be compressed, more volume of cups can be transported in a single consignment. This impacts in a long basic in terms of fuel consumption in transport and also had an advantage in storage, reducing warehouse cost.

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

This solution is addressed to the fast food chains, which are the major consumers of the disposable cups. The cup is also designed considering the fast rate at which the cup needs to be handled. The cups don't require any additional effort to be brought to proper form from their compressed state as the stopper designed to stack the cups will help in unfolding the cups when pulled out of the pile.

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

The food chains benefit in terms of lower storage space and transportation cost. The environment-conscious customers who are in a hurry and are not able to locate a dustbin can now fold the cup and slide it into their pocket or bag and dispose it later due to the compact nature of the cup. This reduces the probability of cup ending up in public places or water bodies. The municipal waste management body is benefitted by the reduction in the volume of the waste to be collected. Though this may seem to be less, on a bigger scale, this will have a huge impact on the waste management of the city.

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?

More material exploration is required for the success of the product.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping

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

We are a team of master's student in design research and have always been interested in taking u sustainability issues and providing design solutions. We wish to carry this forward to make a change.

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.

We are at a very early stage and this challenge triggered this design. So we would need a lot of guidance in terms of technicals and financials to take the idea forward.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anthony Zammit

Can they be made in a design or shape that will use less material

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