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I am the inventor

Photo of Elizabeth Trader
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Idea Title

Casein Cup

Idea Summary

It is a fully biodegradable/compostable plastic made from renewable materials

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

This pictures goes through the process of how the resources will be recovered. First it will be made sing sustainable/renewable raw materials. Then it will break down either in a compost or in he wild

It is a casein based plastic infused with amino acids and made from protein acquired through fermentation. Casein is a protein found exclusively in animal milk however we are in talks with a company that replicates milk proteins using fermentation in order to create a sustainable source. Casein plastic is biodegradable and the when the our cup breaks down it can be used to supply necessary nitrogen to plants through the use of amino acids. If it is not utilized to its full potential by being reused in agriculture it will naturally break down in a short time so that it does not cause pollution.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Lids
  • Straws

How is your concept recoverable?

It can be broken down in a natural environment without the requirement of industrial composting meaning that if someone doesn't recycle, it will break down in a land fill instead of just sitting there. It is also edible meaning that if it ends up in the oceans or the wild before it breaks down it will not be harmful to wildlife. Ideally however they will be recycled for use as fertilizer where it can degrade and release nitrogen into the soil

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

Solution uses casein acquired to fermentation as opposed to animal milk making it renewable. Solution can be adapted to whatever is available in the region for example if a region grows a lot of grapes then they can use vinegar as an acid during production but a region like florida with an abundance of citrus can use citrus juice. Can be broken down into an amino acid rich material that can be used as fertilizer. It also uses sustainably sourced ethanol

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

We plan to address Regions with high plastic consumption (such as the US and UK) and expand regions with less competition who have the raw materials to manufacture my product such as less developed countries. We plan to do this by speaking to individual restaurant owners and small businesses at first and becoming a household name. Then expanding to larger companies and finally when we have scaled enough opening small local manufacturing that provide jobs in developing regions

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

Our target market are restaurants at first. These businesses will benefit from the good publicity as the no straw movement is becoming popular. Additionally should we be able to scale properly, the renewability of the raw materials should result in a lower cost of manufacturing and subsequently a lower cost to the customer (restaurant) especially when compared to petroleum plastic seeing as oil production is expected to hit a permanent decline in 2020. Farmers can also benefit by buying used cups as fertilizer and avoid restrictions on ammonium nitrate fertilizer

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?

The biggest challenges facing us today are support with scaling, marketing and branding, and testing with potential end users. Gaps in our solution include shelf stability and flexibility. For shelf stability it is meant to be broken down which means the packaging would need to be free of and keep out anything that could expedite this process earlier than intended As for flexibility we are currently testing new formulas to make it more flexible. We are also worried about the aesthetics as casein plastic is not transparent and therefore limits what you can do in them for exampled the starbucks unicorn frappe would be pointless in this cup.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Supply Chain
  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling
  • Growth and Scaling

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

I am an aspiring entrepreneur, a student at University of Central Florida, a finalist in the 2018 ZPower competition, and recipient of a national science foundation grant. I have a background in electrical and computer engineering

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


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

We have not registered yet but we would like to do so as an LLC at first and eventually incorporate

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

Becoming a Top Idea will help to actualize our solution by providing us with a foot in the door with companies who we wish to partner with and guidance such as marketing strategies. We will use the funding to develop minimum viable prototypes and reach out to early adopters by covering travel expenses like gas. Long term success to us looks like the adoption of our solution into large corporations like McDonald's and Starbucks but short term we would like to present our idea to local businesses

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

1 comment

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?