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Will design (a) the mold with right pressure and temperature and (b) the layup of leaves to have required structural integrity

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Idea Title


Idea Summary

Around the world leaves are used for eating and drinking purposes. Current collection and production methods are slow and inconsistent. This project aims to bring leaf-based solutions up to modern com

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

The Coca-Cola Company

Globally there is a long tradition of using various leaves as plates and bowls. Common sources are Areca, Somani, Sal, and Banana and basic stamping methods exist to form cups. However, these methods are slow, and the product is inconsistent.

This project aims to firstly, increase production speed, address consistency and cleanliness, and finally expand the process window to allow for other leaf types. Cleanliness will be addressed by standardizing the inbound wash process. Production consistency and speed will be addressed by adapting carbon fiber layup models to evaluate leaf layups and explore chopped leaf layups (5-30mm). Production improvements will focus on increasing mold temperature and pressures.

Lastly this project will systematically explore new leaf varieties that by be applicable to the process. Temperate and deciduous species are of interest as most traditional leaf sources are tropical.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Lids

How is your concept recoverable?

This project will explore the feasibility of repulping as a means to eliminate-down cycling

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

Firstly, the cups are naturally biodegradable; if they are not correctly returned to the supply chain. Additionally, the leaves are a source of non-timber forest product income and do not require tree removal. Finally, the product is easily collected by untrained workers seeking additional income.

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

The focus will initially be on tropical areas where waxy leaves are traditional available. This will be followed with exploration of global leaf species.

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

This product will immediately resonate with consumers who are concerned with the environment. Additional benefits are gained by knowing that the leaves are responsibly sourced and add value to developing economies. Finally, it is estimated the 20 MM trees are used annually for paper cups alone. Shifting this burden from timber to leaves means that Areca, Somani, Sal, and Banana production is generating two crops on existing agricultural infrastructure and the traditional timber production can be reduced or transitioned to premium products. It should be noted that the leaves used naturally drop from the tree and do not cause additional harm or waste.

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?

Equipment R&D resources are a limiting factor in improving production speed.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Business Model Development
  • Supply Chain

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

I am a packaging engineer working at the Global Packaging Engineering group at The Coca-Cola Company located at Atlanta, GA. My background is in the virtual prototyping using numerical simulations. I got my PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2007.

In what city are you located?

Atlanta, GA

In what country are you located?


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

The primary objective is to leverage the broad technical talents to accelerate the R&D and go to the market. Success will be defined as producing the product at a large scale, at cost parity and at quality parity. The first step will be the sourcing and development of new molding equipment.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Direct email invitation


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