Our solution is to provide an alternate material for the cup and lid system. We understand that many of the submissions to the challenge are focused on how to implement a solution around the paper cup, but we think that the problem is that it is a paper cup.
Plastics have a terrible reputation in our current reality. They are touted as one of the major ecological problems of our generation. However, they are incredible useful materials. Our solution proposes to use a plastic created by bacteria (PHA) as a basis for a compound where we will incorporate spent coffee grounds. This compound can then be molded into cups and lids that can be either kept by the consumer as an alternative to the "traveling reusable cup", or recycled or disposed to be biodegraded in land fills. Yes, the base plastic is fully biodegradable, since it is produced by bacteria and microbials identify it as a source of food. Thus it is bioprocessed by bacteria in a matter of months, as opposed to years or decades for other types of plastic.
The solution can be retrofitted to the current suppliers (molders) of reusable cups and lids. The cup will consist of two layers, an outside layer made of the coffee-bioplastic compound and an inner layer made of neat PHA. This to ensure FDA compliance of the cup and to expedite implementation of the solution. The coffee-bioplastic composite can be produced by a "regular" plastic compounder based on a standard formulation (created by addico) and the cup and lids can be produced in a co-injection molding machine (there are many models and suppliers). Addico will provide the technology, formulation and additives to create the coffee-bioplastic compound.
One additional thing to consider in order to implement the solution will be collection centers for spent coffee grounds, or a service of collection from the different stores. The idea is to concentrate the waste at a regional level and then processed it so that it can be easily handled by the plastic compounder.