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X Cup

X Cup is a separable paper cup designed for efficient recycling.

Photo of Chris Chao
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Idea Title

X Cup- Same Paper Cup But Recyclable

Idea Summary

X Cup is designed for efficient recycling with a 100% recycled cupboard and a separate polypropylene liner. The cup can be easily disassembled with its pull tab so that it can be properly recycled.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

X Loop

Website (if applicable)

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

X Cup is made of a 100% recycled paper cupboard and a polypropylene liner. The two components are assembled by mechanical force, but can be easily separated with its pull tab for efficient recycling.

The challenge of the current paper cup is that recyclability of the cup is extremely difficult.  The plastic lining on the cup is bonded with the paper cupboard and to separate the two would require tremendous effort -- effort that has rarely been put forth by recycling and trash facilities. 

X Cup has assembled the plastic liner and cupboard together at the upper rims through mechanical force.  Traditionally, paper cups have used virgin paper board for hygienic concerns.  One of the few exceptions to this FDA rule is when the cup board does not come in contact with the liquid at all.  X Cup is designed with the cupboard and the plastic liner as two separate components and thus allows the use of 100% recycled paper.  Not only are we extending the life of these materials, but we also reduce the number of trees that need to be felled, which has many impacts on its own.

While designing the cup, it was very important that the cup be leak proof.  When a leak occurs, it is most often due to the seams of the paper cup.  With using recycled paper, this issue is more common because of its less qualified shorter fibers not being able to withstand the mechanical bending force during production.  By creating a seamless plastic liner, we were able to ensure that the cup remains leakproof and that the recycled cupboard serves as only a cup-shaped holder.  

The separable plastic liner is made of polypropylene, due to its thermal stability and rigidity.  The plastic liner was developed using thermoforming technique, that allows us to keep costs low and is easily replicable.  Although a compostable bioplastic such as PLA is also optional, the current solutions are unable to meet our requirements of thermal stability.  We anticipate switching to CPLA, a compostable bioplastic with higher melting point, in the near future when it is more available.

We tested the thermal performance of X Cup against a single-walled paper cup with a sleeve.  The results between the two solutions were similar.  Even without a sleeve, X Cup’s exterior was cool enough to hold the cup containing hot beverages for prolonged periods of time, reducing possible accidents and ultimately lawsuits.  With X Cup, we believe that we can not only create a more recyclable paper cup, but also reduce the need for a sleeve required for hot drinks.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Sleeve
  • Cup Liner
  • Some of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

The current to-go fiber cup has many challenges with it being recoverable mainly with its failed recyclability. With its chemically bonded coating, it drives over 99% of paper cups to go into landfill. X Cup, on the other hand, makes efficient use of its raw materials. The cupboard is made of 100% recycled paper, which reduces the overall number of trees that need to be felled. This has cascading effects as more CO2 can be absorbed reducing the amount of CO2 emissions into the environment. Since the cup is easy separable with its pull tab, the cupboard and polypropylene liner can be recycled in their proper receptacles.

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

Currently, we have addressed sustainability in two ways - sourcing raw materials and production. X Loop sources recycled paper from nearby alternative mills, reducing the distance needed to retrieve the paper supply. During the production process of the cup, X Cup assembles the liner and the cupboard separately and uses minor mechanical force to assemble the cup. Compared with the current paper cup production process, we believe that our method can also reduce energy savings by 60%.

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

The EU, the US and Taiwan have all recently announced efforts to eliminate and reduce the number of single use plastic items used. These regions are very high on our priority list mainly because of their dedication to protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. We intend to pilot our idea in Taiwan as we have access to local governments and coffee shops and aggressively expand to our target regions as we gain proof of concept.

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

As our society becomes more reliant on convenience, fast food and to-go coffee shops will continue to exist. As such, the purpose of X Cup is not to change behavior. We are aiming to provide those establishments with a more eco-friendly alternative than our current fiber to-go cup. While X Cup may be very easy to separate using its pull tab, we don’t envision people initially performing this action. Our target market focuses on places of convenience and while separating a paper cup falls out of the scope of convenience, we are working on a ‘last line of defense’ effort with recycling centers while we can continue educational efforts towards the public.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

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

The biggest challenges that X Cup faces are education and behavior change. Most consumers do not realize that the current paper cup is not recyclable. Introducing a new cup without the proper education will likely cause the cup to end up back in landfill. Consumers would need to be educated on the importance and impact that the current paper cup has on our ecosystem. For X Cup specifically, consumers need to be educated that the cups separable and how the two parts should be disposed of in their respective receptacles. Regardless of how easy it may be to separate the cup, it still requires an enormous marketing effort to spark behavior change. In addition to trying to educate consumers, we believe that the ‘last line of defense’ solution is to have the support from recycling centers and government. Gaining approval and proceeding with action from any municipality is always difficult, but if accomplished, it would create a much more reliable recycling structure.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling
  • Growth and Scaling
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

Tse Kuo founded Pancycle 23 years ago and has supplied paper cups to many companies, including KFC China. He is leveraging his expertise to find a recyclable solution in X Cup. Kuo is also working with his COO, Chris Chao, Chia Chen, and Karen Lo.

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.

The biggest questions for any product is adoption and execution. The initial funding will be used to refine our prototype and gain as much feedback as possible from our beta users. With an expanded research and development team, we can work quickly on improving the product and be one of the first entrants to market. Working with Consortium Partners will open doors to large partnerships within the fast food and coffee shop industry.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • In the news


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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