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Compostmodern Cup

Rapidly-compostable molded pulp cup lined with waterproof algae laminate.

Photo of Ian Montgomery
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Idea Title

Compostmodern Cup

Idea Summary

Rapidly compostable molded pulp cup lined with waterproof algae laminate.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Guacamole Airplane

Website (if applicable)

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

Testing our algae film as a liner on a stock paper towel. The film holds water without an issue.

We propose a rapidly compostable molded pulp cup with an algae-liner to address the problems presented by plastic liners in pulp cups. The cup will be lined with a rapidly compostable algae based film that we started developing as part of our work for New York Design Week 2018. Unlike PLA or other bioplastics that require the heat of an industrial composter, this algae lining is backyard compostable, making it an attractive option for on-site or home composting in cities without municipal compost facilities.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Cold Cup Only
  • Cup Liner

How is your concept recoverable?

Our solution is backyard compostable, meaning it doesn’t require the temperatures of an industrial composter to break down.

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

Kenaf, the fiber of the cup, has been carefully selected for its sustainability benefits. In 1960 the US Agricultural Research Service studied 500 plants as alternatives to tree based paper and selected Kenaf as their top choice. The two major benefits of Kenaf in paper making are the low lignin content and it’s high yield, meaning it requires less chemical processing and a smaller footprint to grow.

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

We plan to roll out locally in the San Francisco Bay Area through local community and business partnerships.

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

We are still in the early stages of developing the right algae film and we have yet to go through a full user-centered design process. Once our material explorations are complete, we are excited to use IDEO's design thinking process to uncover hidden needs and do the research necessary to guide the form and use case of our final cups.

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?

Money and time! We run a small design studio and dedicating the necessary months of work into a project like this isn’t feasible unless we know we can at least pay our bills at the same time. That said the business expertise of Closed Loop Partners would be a fantastic resource. We're comfortable with our skills as designers to build the appropriate cup, but involving the business thinking of Closed Loop early in our design phase could inform design solutions with a unique attention to market needs.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Waste and Infrastructure
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

Ian Montgomery - Ian is a designer focused on sustainable materials and packaging. Evan Huggins - Evan is an industrial designer with experience spanning wearable technology, IoT, outdoor gear, aerospace, and apparel.

In what city are you located?

South San Francisco

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 would give us the framework to further pursue this avenue of experimental work.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Closed Loop Partners website / social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anthony Zammit

they may dissolve to quickly by the looks of them, how long to dissolve?

Photo of Anthony Zammit

will it be suitable for warmer contents such as water out of tap on warm day?