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HempCup

We produce take-away packaging using hemp and natural algae.

Photo of Antanas Valčiukas
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Idea Title

Idea Summary

We use industrial hemp for cellulose and fibers, combine it with bio-plastics produced from the same hemp and natural algae to produce biodegradable and compostable take-away packaging.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

MB "Hyraus Trys"

Website (if applicable)

https://www.facebook.com/HempCup/

We in the HempCup focus on two main issues. Raw materials used for production of take-away cups and what is happening after their use. Every year more than 17 million trees are cut down to produce enough cellulose to fulfill global demand of take-away cups. This is a big part of deforestation effect negatively impacting global environment. We calculated that if 5% of arable land would be dedicated to growth of industrial hemp it would be able to supply global demand of paper and carton, thus reducing demand on timber cellulose. In addition to that plastics used to increase strength and make items waterproof are another part of the problem. To produce that amount of synthetic polymers enormous amount of energy and  oil is used which after first use is discarded to waste yards and nature in general, where it if not recycled is kept for hundreds of years. We HempCup we use cellulose and fibers extracted from natural hemp, which is very cheap to grow and process in addition to bioplastics produced from the same plant. Research has shown that composites made of bioplastics matrices produced from the hemp with hemp fibers filling has properties not far behind glass fiber composites, but more elastic, cheap, needing less energy to produce and most importantly being more easy to recycle, biodegradable and even compostable. What is lacking in bioplastic made of hemp we fix with addition of one made of algae. Algae bioplastics add to our composites strength, durability, versatility and natural green image.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Some of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

We aim to solve two main issues. Mass deforestation due to demand of timber cellulose, plastic waste. We substitute timber cellulose to hemp cellulose and synthetic polymer plastics made of oil to bioplastics produced out of the hemp and algae.

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

All raw materials we use is produced locally, thus providing local hemp farmers with additional income. We use only natural materials: hemp fibers, hemp cellulose, bioplastics produced of natural materials. All production is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. We are using existing technologies, re purposing already existing production facilities.

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

We are based in Lithuania, so firstly we are addressing this market. We have worked hard to create Lithuanian Industrial Hemp Growers association, which members we are, we have connections with numerous hemp farmers who provides us with raw materials. As well we work together with local catering businesses and we have pending pre-orders. In addition to that we work with oversight of Lithuanian academy and research facilities, we have mentors in Lithuanian CleanTech Cluster.

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

In Lithuania every year more than 40.000.000 take-away cups are used. In Baltic states this number is exceeding 100 million. Plus additional 10 billion in mid-eastern Europe. 2.5 Germany and 5 billion in France. Take-away cups market is only a part of wider single-use packaging market which is growing every year by substantial margin. We already conducted many interviews with local catering business and we already have several pending big scale pre-orders. Summer festivals are the first venue waiting for our natural single use cup solution. HempCup is a community based project working in partnership with local Lithuanian and Baltic ecosystems.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

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

We have secured substantial base for raw materials and processing capabilities. We have conducted small size test which conclude material theory to be correct. Right now we are working on applying theoretical knowledge and test findings to bigger scale testings and projecting of manufacturing functions. Biggest issue at the moment is to translate our work to bureaucratic language to be eligible for governmental funding. Support in legal, governmental matters is required so team members would be able to concentrate on concrete research as supposed to writing project describing papers. Other hardship is that we are working with oldschool machinery if it is existing and if not we are building everything from the scratch. Therefore hardware support, or hardware planing and re purposing for our needs is a must.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

Our team members are working on material design, communication and marketing and production managing. Our work is aimed in three directions: construction of facilities, recipe making and communication.

In what city are you located?

Vilnius

In what country are you located?

Lithuania

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

partnership

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

By becoming a Top Idea HempCup would drastically increase speed of development of Lithuanian and all Baltic states hemp industry. Funding to research and facilities would allow to innovate in the field of bioplastics fast and efficiently. Timber consumption would be substituted with consumption of hemp fast and effectively halting effects of deforestation. Growing brand image and communication trough mass take-away packaging would spread the message of sustainability wide and far.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO social media

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Marianne .
Team

Hi there,
Thanks for the update! I found your project really inspiring as I also believe that combining bio-plastics with natural fibers have potential to obtain high-performance materials which can compete petroleum-based packaging. I like the fact that your bioplastics and matrice fillers are coming from the same crop;
Also the algae bio-plastic sounds great, never heard about it - is it a resource material you can find in Lithuania as well?
Thanks for your time, and wishing you all the best for your great project!
Bye
Marianne.

Photo of Antanas Valčiukas
Team

Hello,
Thank you for kind words.
Yes, algae is found here locally and it is really easy to grow anywhere where is enough water :)
We are keeping up on our work.
I hope sooner than later we will be able to show good results.
Best regards
Antanas.