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Project Blue Ocean

An ecosystem where post-consumer waste creation is eliminated by making circularity easy, desirable, intelligent and rewarding.

Photo of Brian Direen
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Idea Title

Where the idea of waste ends.

Idea Summary

At baseline we move cups, lids, straws, cutlery, food wraps, carry bags to certified 100% compostable materials and tie to an intelligent recovery ecosystem that rewards people for participating.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Blue Ocean Holdings Limited

Website (if applicable)

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

While there have been numerous innovations showing incremental improvements in disposable cups end-of-life solutions to date these have proved to be highly fragmented and uncoordinated to hold impact at scale. 

Eco-solutions not only need be commercially viable and globally scalable but easy to adopt, holistic in nature, and critically have an incentive mechanism that encourages open-collaboration, and allows anyone to participate. An ecosystem where people all over the world can take part and are incentivised by the system to do so.

Project Blue Ocean is that solution. A solution that falls into two parts; 1/ Packaging Marketplace, and 2/ Recovery Ecosystem. 

The Packaging Marketplace matches producers of circular customer packaging with foodservice retail customers. Products like certified compostable cups, lids, sleeves, stirrers, straws, cutlery, plates, food wraps, milk bottles, carry bags along with reusable products made from sustainable materials. Cup materials not only include advanced biobased polymers like PLA but other innovative solutions like water-based, dispersion coated barrier films that when added to natural cup stock eliminates the need for plastic coatings. 

Product producers from different regions of the world with combined capacity to supply hundreds of millions of cups monthly have been identified and have expressed support of the Blue Ocean project. The marketplace will operate with very low fees.  

The Recovery Ecosystem incentivizes the use of reusable and compostable packaging and helps facilitate the use/establishment of the infrastructure to collect and wash reusables and organically recycle both packaging and leftover food. 

The ecosystem allows for predetermined, near-instant reimbursements to customers as reward for circular behaviours. For example when placing a compostable coffee cup into a Blue Ocean PreCycle recovery bin. Reimbursement levels are negotiated between each retail partner and Blue Ocean and range from just a couple of cents per cup to any level that a retailer sees benefit in rewarding for a particular behaviour.

Each reimbursement is seamlessly transacted at point-of-recovery ie when a user places a cup, purchased from a retail partner, into a Blue Ocean bin. On each occasion a user is reimbursed/rewarded with BlueO tokens, Blue Ocean simultaneously debits the retailer the predetermined amount.    

To achieve its mission of eliminating waste creation and go big, fast, Blue Ocean has a five-pronged enabling strategy:

  • Shift single-use plastics to compostable, totally benign, nature-based packaging. Packaging that carries seeds of its own circular transformation

  • As a highly-practical baseline create a single organic recovery stream that caters for the majority of post-consumer packaging and food waste eliminating the need for sorting, washing and separate bins. A system that can recover everything that is served to a consumer 

  • Adopt a systems approach with ubiquitous recovery touch-points. With some 50% of cups taken off retail premises, it is critical that recovery transcends retail brands and is made widely available in office blocks, train stations, airports...

  • Build/connect with intelligent & transparent collection through use of IoT, identity verification systems, fill/weight sensors, and algorithm-based logistics

  • Use BlueO tokens to create powerful network effects by giving people ownership of creating their desired future. Ensuring participants have a vested interest in promoting the ecosystem. 

At centre of the Blue Ocean business model is the tokenised incentive mechanism, where tokens, called BlueO, will serve as an access ticket to the ecosystem.  Tokens can be used to buy products from retail partners, virtual goods or simply held on to to benefit from token growth. 

For retailers the value proposition is compelling. Firstly, they get a new way to engage with consumers at both point-of-purchase and at point-of-recovery (when cups are returned to Blue Ocean bins), secondly they get a systems approach to detoxify their end-of-use value chains in the interests of sustainable life, while lastly, they get to capture additional revenues and or reduce costs by doing things in more productive ways. 

While it's abundantly clear that we’ve exceeded planetary boundaries for waste creation solutions sit at our fingertips. Move away from petroleum-based packaging and incentivize responsible consumption without compromise on convenience. The Chinese city of Suzhou, provides insight as to how this could play out as an 'overnight' solution.  The city’s municipality has mandated all restaurants send food waste to a particular compost operator in order to secure their food licence for the following year. In turn, the compost is used to grow high-value insect protein for aquaculture feed. 

While this is an adapt or die strategy if the same principle was applied to Blue Ocean ecosystem foodservice waste would not only be eliminated with near zero additional cost it would also create a thriving industry where packaging and food waste no longer litters the environment but enriches it.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • All of the Above
  • Reusable System

How is your concept recoverable?

Firstly, a systems approach makes for comprehensive recoverability across front of store, office and home. Secondly, recoverability is made both easy and rewarding. Making a baseline organic recovery stream as a single touch-point that caters for compostable packaging (biopolymers, paper, cardboard) along with coffee grinds/food waste makes it easy for consumers, valuable for organic recyclers, while cup reimbursements make it rewarding. Lastly, intelligent collection provides for efficiency, transparency and real-time impact reporting.

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

Blue Ocean ecosystem allows for both existing sustainability attributes like replacing petroleum-based plastic coating on cups with water-based, dispersion coated barriers, while also aligning for inventive products of tomorrow. Creating a futureproof circular economic system.

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

Pilot projects are being finialised for India, Taiwan and New Zealand for 1st QTR 19. We plan to be operating within 20 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and the Middle East by 2020. Each country will have Country Partners to manage retail partner alliances and customise recovery systems to suit the marketplace. High-level plans are underway for a number of these markets.

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

Our initial target audience is coffee drinkers. The underlying beauty of our ecosystem is that for a consumer to participate and enjoy a sustainable consumption experience all they have to do is buy and drink their coffee and when finished place the cup in a Blue Ocean recovery bin. The given identity verification system will then allow for near-instant reimbursement and eco-status update. We know from cup recovery case studies, for instance, the SimplyCups initiative in Australia, that just by making recovery conveniently available people will participate. Of course, Blue Ocean goes much, much deeper than this.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Piloting

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

Funding. To run multi-country pilot projects and allow for rapid scalability requires a 'continuous' funding model.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

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

A small global team based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, India and Dubai. Strong experience across international business, partnership development, branding, marketing, sustainability and blockchain.

In what city are you located?

Tainan, Hong Kong, Christchurch, Dubai & New Delhi

In what country are you located?

Taiwan/New Zealand

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


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

Access to additional resources will allow for optimal refinement and execution of city-wide pilot projects. Success will be defined through the achievement of compelling customer experiences/engagement and high-level cup recovery rates. Above 90%.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Closed Loop Partners website / social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Brian Direen ,

Great to see you filling out your submission. I did want to make sure you knew your submission is currently in draft form. Was this your intention? With the deadline for a complete submission by this Friday, we recommend making your ideas public as soon as possible so our community can provide feedback. You can continue editing your submission until the final deadline!

Please click "publish" on your idea at the top of the page. Feel free to tag me with any questions you may have.

Photo of Brian Direen

Hi Lauren,
Thanks for your note. We are now 'live".