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Cups for the Cause!

The ultimate resource for the circular economy!

Photo of Nicholas Jones
7 1

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Idea Title

A Greener Future!

Idea Summary

Hemplyne is a biodegradable and compostable material made from the hemp plant that at all stages of production can solve world problems.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)

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

Concept overview:

Our planet has more issues than just landfills and plastic pollutions, many are in poverty with a lack of food, water, and other natural resources. Playing to the understanding of a circular economy it was vital to find a new material solution that could offer other unique benefits throughout the supply chain. Hemp can be converted into a material known as Hemplyne. 

How it Works:

Hemplyne is made when from hemp fibers. In order to make hemplyne, you must first produce hemp. From the Hemp, the fiver is used and mixed with corn-based polyacids and lignin. There are currently other organic materials being tested to mix with hemp to produce a biodegradable and compostable plastic. Hemplyne can be injection molded and or 3d printed.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Hot Cup Only
  • Cold Cup Only
  • Cup Lids
  • Straws
  • Cup Sleeve
  • Cup Liner
  • All of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

We currently have trash sorting facilities that sort various plastics. However, it can become difficult as the sorting machines can not determine how much plastic material is in one type of cup. In our cup solution, the web-like design on the cup will contain an identifiable tracker for sorting facilities to identify our hemplyne cups from other plastics.

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

The material by itself offers a magnitude of additional sustainable solutions. There are over 50,000 uses for hemp. However, once a cup is made and used it can be recovered and recycled into a fabric, insulation, carpeting, paneling, cordage, pulp, recycling additive, bagging and fiber board. Anything made from petroleum, cotton or timber can be made from hemp. Additionally, the hemplyne material is compostable and biodegradable.

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

Various regions will be addressed with solutions, places like Haiti, India and China. As well as the United States for biofuels and other means for use of the Hemp product. Hemp offers many solutions that can help solve some of the toughest problems each country faces. In order to make anything happen of magnitude, you need people and partnerships. The plan will be to work hand in hand with the local community, government, for-profit and non-profit businesses to bring the solution to life.

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

As this product was designed with a circular economy in mind, there are numerous beneficiaries. From the countries that can provide food, new building material water purification to the everyday coffee drinker. Our goal was not just to create a cup but create a complete product cycle that offers numerous benefits to varying markets.

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?

Research and development support, market access and supply chain understanding.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainability and Recoverability
  • Waste and Infrastructure

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

I worked for years as BMW master technician, all while obsessing over the likes of business. While at BMW, I functioned as a team lead, manager and lead technician. From a kid I have always admired those of Howard Hughe and their desire to innovate

In what city are you located?

Miami, Fl

In what country are you located?

United States

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


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

The money would be used for research and development and to create partnerships to see the success of the product. The key goal would be to test durability, heat tolerance and compostability in many markets. Success would be determined when everyday coffee shops and or Instagram photos display the use of the cup.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email


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?

Photo of Nicholas Jones

Thank you for your feedback. In order for the hemplyne to be a viable solution you must create a demand for the material through its complete product life cycle; From stalk all the way to repurposing, recycling and or reusing the material in a different way. The problem with current solutions is actually the lack of demand and or “money” for the use of the materials after we dispose of them. Hence the compounding issue of landfills. So I believe, having a compostable material alone is not a solution for our ever evolving problem of waste. With that said an ordinary cardboard cup also cause pollution of the soil during that time it breaks down. Hemplyne does not decompose with just air and water you also need the earth micro organisms.

Photo of Anthony Zammit

Can these cups be made with other materials for example, Soy, sugar cane or straw fibres?

Photo of Koldun Victor

In principle, any plant can be a source of cellulose. The only question is the profitability of their processing.

Photo of Nicholas Jones

Process can be streamlined and automated especially in today’s environment. I think the question is more how much money or how many complex problems can we solve with this plant. Value drives money. And the value design of hemp is pretty high. You can even create fiber board 350x stronger than current woods used for building homes. The point is to create a demand and need at each product lifecycle. In fact many car manufacturers such as BMW utilize hemp in creating there electric cars and as well in production of their dashboards and door panels.

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