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

Bio-cup

A fully home-compostable cup made out of freeze dried agar or mycelium with an agar lid.

Photo of Hannah Burrell
2 0

Written by

Idea Title

A sustainable bio design system cup.

Idea Summary

Bio-cup redirects the value placed on recycling and resource recovery to utilising waste from coffee ground to grow mycelium, and carbon sequestering seaweed farming for agar.

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

Biocup uses a bio-system lifecycle which does not harm the environment and can be made to be carbon sequestering, reduce green-house gas, be compostable and even a fertiliser at the end stage of its life as well as being an intuitive and ergonomic cup.

Materials
Agar is derived from seaweed which is also a carbon sequestering method. This could be a method of using a carbon positive material in packaging, or can be utilised in carbon offsetting a business.
Coffee grind is discarded after use and contributes to tonnes of waste and green-house gas in landfill. By utilising coffee grind as a binder and food for mycelium it saves the environment and also business’s contribution to waste.

Manufacturing 
These sustainable materials are then set in molds to either set, be freeze dried, or in the case of mycelium, grow. Mycelium takes approx. a week to grow but does not use any energy from a power source in this process.

Processing
Once in shape, these molded cups and lids can be coated in a starch or compostable PLA to meet food safety standards and protect the liquid from the material – though these materials are safe and even edible for humans.

Use
The coffee cup and lid is user centred in all aspects of its ‘use’ stage. The lid is a sink or plug style, which the user simply has to push down into the cup base – there is no fiddling to make sure it is clasped onto the base rim like current coffee cup lids. Both the cup and lid is stackable and incredibly light weight which is beneficial to logistics cost, storage and transport.The user has the benefit of a cup which is intuitive and does not have to be concerned about special disposal needs.

End of life
The bio-cup does not need any special infrustructure or disposal systems in order to be a sustainable cup – it can simply be thrown in the garbage, garden or even ocean as no aspects of the materials are detrimental to the environment. This is also beneficial to the user who can often find correct disposal of ‘green’ packaging confusing, frustrating and misleading.

Recycling
We need to shift our ideology from costly resource recovery in the final stage to a bio-system one where material footprints and sustainability is more important. Recycling materials can often cost more and consume more energy and water than processing raw materials, which is why we don't have a circular material economy. It can also produce or use toxic or harmful chemicals in re-processing, such as chlorine and bleach in the case of paper recycling. Recycling and cradle-to-cradle is not the successful sustainable ideology that we need it to be.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Lids

How is your concept recoverable?

It can utilise coffee waste, but ideally it does not need to be recoverable as the value for recycled materials and infrastructure is not there. We need to shift our ideology from costly resource recovery in the final stage to a bio-system one where material footprints and sustainability is more important. Recycling materials can often cost more and consume more energy and water than processing raw materials, which is why we don't have a circular material economy. It can also produce or use toxic or harmful chemicals in re-processing, such as chlorine and bleach in the case of paper recycling. Recycling and cradle-to-cradle is not the successful sustainable ideology that we need it to be.

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

Carbon sequestering raw materials, green house gas reduction from recycling agricultural waste, compostable and biodegradable, can be ethically and sustainably sourced and no petroleum based materials included, low carbon footprint due to light weight and transportability.

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

It can be scaled to be global. Initially, it will be Australia based to access freeze drying manufacturing, abundance of coffee grind and mycelium.

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

Business, as it can be used to carbon offset their practices. Baristas, because it is ergonomic and easier to use. Consumers, because it does not change current packaging interactions.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

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

Manufacturing, business and system modelling.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping
  • Growth and Scaling
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

I am a designer who is particularly interested in bio design with a passion for sustainability and human-centred design.

In what city are you located?

Melbourne

In what country are you located?

Australia

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

Sole Trader

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

It will scale and develop the product for use but also change our ideology in regards to sustainable design, recycling, bio-systems and biomaterials!

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email
  • Closed Loop Partners website / social media
View more

Attachments (7)

Biocup lifecycle.jpg

Biocup uses a bio-system lifecycle which does not harm the environment and can be made to be carbon sequestering, reduce green-house gas, be compostable and even a fertiliser at the end stage of its life.

Recycling.jpg

We need to shift our ideology from costly resource recovery in the final stage to a bio-system one where material footprints and sustainability is more important. Recycling materials can often cost more and consume more energy and water than processing raw materials, which is why we don't have a circular material economy. It can also produce or use toxic or harmful chemicals in re-processing, such as chlorine and bleach in the case of paper recycling.

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Koldun Victor
Team

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?

View all comments