OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

The Billion Dollar Cup.

Create a cup that also functions as a recurring lottery ticket that is eligible to win cash & prizes funded by fees derived from fiber cups.

Photo of Stuart Squires
0 0

Written by

Idea Title

The Billion Dollar Cup - your cup is your ticket!

Idea Summary

Print each cup with a unique QR code that gives the cup owner the chance to: - take part in daily/weekly/monthly/yearly online prize draws - earn loyalty points. - provide feedback to the program

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Advanced Innovations AS

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

Changing Consumer Behaviour:

I believe that finding the perfect replacement for existing paper cups may take a long time to achieve and that there may not actually be a single silver bullet solution out there.

In the meantime, I believe that the smart thing to do is to try to find the most effective solution to get consumers to change their current behavior.

What I propose is to offer an incentive program that encourages consumers to purchase and use durable, multi-use, fully recyclable cups.

At the same time, like with plastic shopping bags, participating establishments will be charging customers who choose to use the "to-go" fiber cups a small extra fee (1 penny for example). 

The fees collected from the to-go cups can then be pooled together and offered as rewards for those who choose to opt for the fully re-usable / recyclable cups.

The idea is to print unique QR codes on the fully re-usable / recyclable cups such that they are able to also function as "lottery" tickets. The system is not considered to be a true lottery since users are not paying a fee in order to take part in it. These draws should therefore not be in violation of any federal or state lottery laws.

Here's how it would work:

Once the consumer purchases the cup they then need to do the following:

  • Use their smart phone to scan the unique QR code that is on the side or bottom of the cup.
  • After scanning the QR code the user's phone will open the web site associated with the QR code where they can login or sign up using their favorite social media credentials.
  • After successfully signing in the user will see that that particular cup has been assigned to them (as well as any other cups that they've purchased in the past).
  • Once assigned to the user a cup cannot be re-assigned to anyone else unless it is taken back to a participating establishment for recycling.

From this point on the user:

  • Can earn loyalty points every time that they use the cup at participating establishments.
  • Will be automatically entered to win daily/weekly/monthly/yearly prize draws regardless of whether they use the cup each day.
  • Will earn additional draw entries when they actually do use their cups at participating establishments.
  • Can return the cup for a new clean one at participating establishments.

Earn Loyalty Points:

Every time the the customer uses the cup at any participating establishment they will earn loyalty points. 

Participating establishments can pay a small fee to cover the cost of the loyalty points being awarded to the customer.

The fee used to cover the cost of the loyalty points is offset by the fact that the participating establishment doesn't have to give the customer a non-recyclable cup.

The participating store simply scans the QR code on the user's cup using an App or the store's POS system. The App tells a central server to reward that user with loyalty points for using their re-usable cup.

Win Prizes - Prize funding:

Every year over 250 billion fiber cups are consumed.

That said, it seems reasonable to apply a small fee to those cups and then use that money to pay for the prizes being offered in this promotion.

In addition to the fees applied to the "to-go" cups other revenue streams from online advertising can also be used to help pay for the prizes being offered in this promotion. (see next section for details).

Win Prizes - Process:

The cup owner will receive emails or App notifications reminding them that their cup "might" be today's lucky winner and that they should login to check if it is.

If the person fails to login they can still win a prize but only a fraction of the prize amount that they would have earned if they had taken the time to login and check manually.

If the person decides to login and check their cup numbers they will be shown:

  • Targeted advertising based on their social media profile
  • Latest statistics on how many "to go" cups have been saved by this program.
  • Latest news on prizes that have been recently awarded.
  • Other important updates and offers from participating partners 

This system is designed to create a new form of marketing channel that can connect advertisers with participants in the system and help to continually promote itself. 

Even if the cup owner fails to win the daily draw they will still be awarded loyalty points for taking the time to log in and check their cup numbers.

The money used to pay for the loyalty points as well as the prize draws will come from:

  • The online advertising shown to users who check their cup numbers
  • Fees charged to the to-go fiber cup users 
  • Other stakeholders who benefit from less cups ending up in the environment (local governments for example)

To be able to collect a prize the cup owner must still be in possession of the cup.

Unclaimed prizes and partially forfeited prizes will be added to future draws.

Every time that a customer earns loyalty points or other prizes they will be encouraged to share that information to their social media feeds to help encourage others to also take part. 

This should help contribute to the continuous marketing of the campaign.

If a cup is lost and another person finds it then the person who finds it can return it to a participating store whereby:

  • They may exchange it for a brand new one.
  • They may exchange it for the deposit that was made on the original cup 
  • The person who turns it in may also be eligible to claim a portion or all of any unclaimed prize money that may be associated with that particular cup. In other words, it could really pay off for someone to take the time to pick up a cup lying on the side of the road and turn it in.

Return the cup for a new clean one at participating establishments.

When the cup owner visits a participating establishment (McDonalds for instance) they may decide to swap their existing cup for a new one. 

If they decide to swap their cup then all they need to do is to tell the employee while they are ordering their meal that they have a recyclable cup that they would like to swap for a new clean one.

  • During the swapping process the employee (or a machine) at McDonalds would scan the customer's existing cup and register it as being returned. The "return" machine could be situated next to the drive thru menu board before the customer gets to the pickup window.
  • The new cup being given to the customer would also be scanned and thus automatically assigned to the customer's account (which was just pulled up by scanning the old cup). 
  • The customer would receive a notification on their mobile device informing them that their cup has been swapped out for a new one.
  • The design of the cup would be such that it is easily stacked on top of other cups in order to minimize the amount of storage space required. 
  • The cups may be cleaned on site or sent to a nearby central cleaning facility where they will be evaluated as to whether they should be cleaned, repaired or fully recycled.
  • The machines described above are already in existence ( for example).
  • It may be necessary to have a separate QR code on both the lid and the cup if it turns out to be difficult to design cups with integrated lids. This simply means that one extra scan needs to take place when registering cups.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • All of the Above
  • Reusable System
  • Alternative Delivery System
  • Other

How is your concept recoverable?

The lottery ticket and loyalty point aspect of this solution provides for an incentive for the cup owners to take care of their cups as well as return them for new cups during the course of their lives. These cups will also have a deposit associated with them in order to give them an added incentive for cup owners to take care of them and periodically return them for recycling / cleaning.

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

This solution allows for the use of entirely recyclable materials to be used in the construction of the cups. The construction of the cups can be modified to suit the types of sustainable / recyclable materials that are available in the different markets where they will be sold. If it makes more sense to use stainless steel in one region and aluminum in another then that will be entirely possible to do. If a cup ends up being discarded it will at least be able to eventually oxidize completely..

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

This solution should work in all regions. This could possibly be accomplished with the help of the organizers of this contest since they are already well established globally. Alternatively, other partners with global market presence may have to be approached to assist with this program. Apple, Microsoft, Google and similar types of companies may make for suitable partners.

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

All stakeholders and end users will benefit from this solution. As explained above, the end users will be presented with a very simple way of participating in the program. Participating establishments stand to save "cup" costs as well as enjoy a new way of connecting with their patrons and learn more about them through the new marketing channel that this idea creates. This marketing channel will also function as a new form of online advertising revenue stream. It can also be used to gain valuable feedback from cup owners such as manufacturing or design defects. Since each QR code is unique it will be easy to identify whether issues are supplier related, batch related or both.

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?

I have been pitching a similar concept to my local government regarding ways of getting consumers to reduce their use of non-recyclable plastic shopping bags. The idea is pretty much the same - encourage customers to use cloth or rugged re-usable bags that also function as draw tickets. Getting access to key corporations to pitch them with this idea has been the biggest challenge so far. The technical challenges associated with this idea are fortunately not very difficult. QR codes have been around since 2002 and mobile phones / computers with Internet connections are nearly ubiquitous in all of the markets where this concept can be used.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainability and Recoverability
  • Waste and Infrastructure
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping
  • Branding / Marketing and Storytelling
  • Growth and Scaling
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

I am a 48 year old Canadian citizen with a bachelor's degree in Civil engineering. I have a wide range of interests, skills and entrepreneurial experience. I only recently found out about this competition so it's just me on my team at the moment

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


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

I have limited company ("Aksjeselskap") here in Norway.

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

As mentioned earlier - this is not an overly technically challenging solution to create when compared with trying to find replacement materials and coatings for fiber cups! I believe that having the support of the Consortium Partners and joining the business accelerator would guarantee the success of the project. Key steps would likely involve testing all aspects of the project on a small scale (such as a university campus) before rolling it out to other markets in a phased manner.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO social media


Join the conversation: